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PENHALA. 



VOL. II. 



P E N H A L A 



A WAYSIDE WIZARD. 



BY 

CLARA LEMORE, 



ACTHOK OF 



' A HARVEST OF WEEDS,' ' A COVENANT WITH THE DEAD,' 
' GWEN dale's ordeal, ' ETC. 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
. VOL. IL 



6 



LONDON : 

HURST AND BLACKETT, LIMITED, 

13, GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET. 

1895. 

All rights reserved. 






oi^ 



CONTENTS 



THE SECOND VOLUME. 



CHAPTEB 

BOOK II. 

(COKTUrUED.) 

V. A Fate no Human "Will can turn Aside 

VI. A Ghastly Mistake .... 

VII. The Second Tenor makes his Exit 

VIII. A Blank Draw on Tregarron Head . 

IX. A Lo\t: which knows not Sacrifice . 



3 

28 

68 

103 

138 



B O O K 1 1 1. 

I. The thin end of the Wedge 167 

II. Kateefelto 197 

III. The Son of his Father .... 242 

IV. Music hath Charms the Savage Breast to 

SOOTHE 278 



BOOK II. 

Ccontinu>:d.) 



VOL. n. 



PENHALA. 



CHAPTER V. 

A FATE XO HUMAN WILL CAX TURN ASIDE. 

When he left Miss Fentimore, the strongest 
desire in John's heart was never to see her 
again. The sorrows and trouble he had 
hitherto brought into the hves of those 
dear to him, had been caused by his miser- 
able weakness, his lack of manhood. In 
this case at least he would not be weak. 
He knew what was the rio^ht thino: to do, 
and he would ctq straio^ht ahead and do it. 
Burlington would in all probabihty be still 

B 2 



4 PENH ALA. 

lingering at the theatre, he would go back 
there at once, and ask the good-natured 
manao:er to leave him free to 2:0 his own 
way there and then. 

Hurrying along Prince's Street again^ 
he began to wonder at the discovery which 
had flashed upon him since he had walked 
that same road with Miss Fentimore, half- 
an-hour ago. She loved him ! The won- 
der and the glory of it ! Yes, he could 
not but glory in it, even while he flinched 
at the thouo'ht of the sufl'erino; he had 
brought into her life. She loved him I 
Could he ever again feel as he had felt — 
lost beyond all chance of redemption — 
knowing that a good, high-minded woman 
had held him for a spell in her heart of 
hearts ? There was purification in the 
thought itself. The very recollection was 
elevating. 



PENHALA. 5 

And this beautiful joy that had been 
-offered to him he must push away from 
him for ever ; and, knowing and reahsing 
to the innermost fibre of his being that it 
must be so, he told himself that he was 
like some poor, thirst-stricken wayfarer 
in the desert, who, at his last gasp, was 
called upon to cast from him the precious 
cup of purest water, which w^ould have 
saved him from the torments of a lingering 
death. All was dark before him again just 
now, and it looked darker even than it had 
ever looked before, because of the radiance 
he was leaving behind him. But, keenly 
conscious though he was that, by cutting 
himself adrift from his better angel, he was 
reducing to its minimum his own chance of 
ultimate redemption, he never for a moment 
admitted the possibility of an alternative. 
The one object he had in view just now 



6 PENHALA. 

Avas not Ms own benefit, but bers, and 
tbere was no half-heartedness about his 
decision. He would in all probability go 
to the wall again, drop back, socially and 
morally, into the old slough of despond 
from which she had rescued him ; but 
rather that a thousand times, than that 
suffering should come near to her because 
of him. 

And yet, was she not already bound to 
suffer, because of this contemplated de- 
parture of his ? Since the mischief was 
already done, would it not be more praise- 
worthy on his part to stay, and try to wipe 
out the bitter past by his goodness to her ? 
Great God, how he loved her ! Loving her 
so, how could it be — since she also loved 
him — but that he could make her happy ? 
Such love as this of his was powerful 



PENH ALA. 7 

enough to overcome all obstacles, be tbey 
of Heaven's raising or Hell's ! 

Thus the devil's prompting for a spell., 
and then his newly-recovered manhood 
came to his aid, and lifted him high above 
the selfish sophism. 

' Yes, she would suffer for a time, this 
sweet, pale, steadfast-eyed love of his, 
when she found he was gone from her for 
ever ; but the suffering of separation was 
a suffering she would recover from, and 
cast behind her. It was to save her from 
suffering of another sort that he would 
leave her, from suffering that would eat 
into her heart, and corrode her whole life, 
the suffering of a brain never at rest, of a 
mind for ever on the rack, for ever tor- 
menting itself with fears for its loved one's 
safety. He knew himself what that anxi- 



8 PENHALA. 

ous, unceasing watchfulness was like, else 
?ie might not have shrunk back so appalled 
from the thought of inflicting it on another 
— the quick pang of fear if a man but 
looked curiously at him in passing, the 
haunting dread of meeting some one from 
among the friends of his youth in his daily 
walks abroad, the ghastly terror of prophe- 
tic dreams, of tolling bells, and scaffold 
steps, and pinioned hands — should he lay 
the woman he loved, the woman who had 
been God's angel of mercy to him, under 
such a burden as this ? 

' God forbid !' he said aloud, and said it 
so emphatically, that one or two near him 
on the pavement overheard, and smiled 
carelessly at the handsome young man's 
absence of mind. ' God forbid !' he ex- 
claimed again, and closed his teeth hard, 
and set back his shoulders, and turned 



PENHALA. 9 

sharply into the passage leading to the 
stage-door, and betook himself to Burling- 
ton's room with a feeling upon him of a 
victory already well won. 

And Burlington was still there, as John 
had thought he would be, and looked up 
with a friendly smile to greet his young 
tenor. 

That is a strange contrariety in human 
nature w^hich makes us always most 
willing to confer favours where they are 
least needed — strange, but incontrovertible. 
Burlington was no more free from this con- 
trariety than the rest of his kind, and be- 
cause he had chosen to jump to the con- 
clusion that John Smith was a young man 
of good connections and independent means 
— a conclusion strengthened by his silence 
with regard to his own p)ast — the genial 
manager would have gone farther out of 



10 PENH ALA. 

his way to oblige this especial member of 
his company than any other. But, even 
under these circumstances, his face fell 
when he heard that John wanted to throw 
up his engagement on the spot. 

' Well, that's a jolly rum start !' he cried^ 
throwing himself back in his chair, with 
his chin up and his hands thrust in his 
pockets. 'What's this sudden whim for? 
When you left here an hour ago there was 
nothing of this kind in your head, I'll swear ! 
By Jupiter, I believe I've spotted the 
snake ! It's that cat, Morelli ! Oh, don't 
tell me,' he went on, as John would have 
entered a feeble disclaimer, ' I know all 
about it. The vicious vixen has been talk- 
ing to some of the others about your re- 
fusal to shave, in the same style as she 
talked to me, I suppose ; and some of the 
silly twaddle has come back to you. Now 



PENHALA. 11 

look here, Smitli ! I'll tell you what I'll do — 
I've taken a great fancy to you, and I 
don't want to part with you — that is to say, 
unless you are really anxious to break off 
all connection with me.' 

'Xo,' said John, 'that was not my 
object at all.' 

' Very well then, I have a plan to pro- 
pose to you — Morelli is huiFed with you 
about something — oh, don't bother to ex- 
plain ! You can't divide yourself and satisfy 
two women with a half a-piece any more 
than another man. The only real important 
point is, that the Italian will make things 
hot for you when you sing with her, and I 
have a plan to suggest which would square 
that difficulty exactly. How would it suit 
you to take alternate weeks with the two 
companies — a week here, when your parts 
lie with Miss Fentimore's, and a week with 



12 PENHALA. 

the otlier company wlieii the second tenor 
has to meet Morelli? 1 could easily ar- 
range the operas so as to make them fit in.' 
' Thank you !' said John, warmly. ' It's 
more than good of you to make such an 
ofi*er, Burlington, and I'm more obliged 
than I can tell you. Will you go a step 
further, and let me permanently take up 
the second tenor s parts in the number two 
company?' 

' Why — ' said Burlington, opening his 
eyes and mouth very wide indeed — ' why, 
I thought — ' and then he remembered 
just in time that what he thought was 
perhaps best kept to himself, and has- 
tened to change the subject. ' Of course 
you shall do as you wish about that ; 
though, personally, I shall be sorry to 
lose the pleasure of your society. But 
I'm afraid I can't possibly do without you 



PENH ALA. 13 

to-night. I'll wire to the other fellow, 
Young, to come on to-morrow, and you 
will join them on Monday at Leeds, and 
take up his parts, but to-night you must 
sing here.' 

John bowed to the inevitable and went 
away home, with a golden thread of com- 
fort Aveaving itself in among the sombre 
weft of his wretchedness. He had taken 
a decisive step along the road that makes 
for righteousness, and though his sorrow 
was nowise lessened it was chastened 
thereby. 

Mary was not singing that night, and 
all the afternoon he was telling himself 
that he would have to go away without 
another glimpse of her. Speech with her 
he did not want — indeed he would have 
avoided it if the chance had offered — but 
he wanted to look once more on her face as 



14 PENHALA. 

one looks at the face of the dead ; to photo- 
graph, as it were, every line and curve of 
her features upon his memory, before he 
went out from her presence for ever. For 
there was to be no half measures about 
this separation ; once he was away from 
her he would never willingly intrude him- 
self into her presence again, never while 
he lived. With a curious inconsistency 
the thought of parting from her without a 
farewell glance at her sweet face, hurt him 
more at the moment than the contempla- 
tion of all the lonely years that were to 
follow afterwards. And so it was that, when 
at nii^ht he came on to the stao-e, and saw 
her in a private box with the manager's 
wife, his heart gave a great leap of 
gladness. 

All the evening through, in the pauses 
of his part, he watched her furtively, and 



PENHALA. 15 

when lie was off the stage he still watched 
her from the proraj)t entrance ; and she was 
conscious of this unceasing observation. 
Once she even discovered him on the 
stage at the back of a crowd of chorus- 
singers, where he had no business to be, 
still watching her in that curiously stead- 
fast fashion. 

Burlington himself happened to be in 
the box at the moment, and, seeing Smith 
there, made a laughing observation to the 
effect that he was putting in a little extra 
work, in honour of his last night. And 
that was Mary's first intimation of his 
approaching departure. 

She said nothing ; indeed, if her life 
had depended on instant speech she could 
not have spoken. For a few seconds the 
lights were transformed into a blinding 
sheet of flame, the music into a deafening 



16 PENH ALA. 

roar of indistinguishable sound. The 
truth smote on her understanding, and 
half-stunned it. She could only sit still,, 
and pray that she might not betray her- 
self to the pleasant, jovial people she was 
with. 

John had found out her secret. And 
he was going to run away from her to 
save her from herself. Not to save himself 
— she knew that. He loved her — she 
knew that also — and greater proof of his 
love he could not have given than this — 
to voluntarily banish himself from her 
presence because he felt so keenly his own 
unworthiness. And she was helpless to 
stop this mistaken self-sacrifice. 

The evening wore on to its end. She 
was under an engagement to sup with the 
Burlino^tons that nio^ht; she would have 
excused herself if she could, but was un- 



PEXHALA. 17 

able to find any sufficient reason for her 
breach of faith. 

When the curtain was down, she went 
round on to the stage with Mrs. Burling- 
ton to wait for her husband. At the end 
of a few minutes, the manager's wife grew 
impatient, and leaving Mary there, went 
off to see what was keeping her lord and 
master. 

With the exception of a faint glimmer 
here and there, which did little more than 
make the darkness visible, the stage was 
wrapped in gloom, and through this shad- 
owv dimness the stao;e-men were dartinoc 
about with ' flats ' and ' wino^s ' clearinof 
the centre of the stage of all obstructions 
for the night. Presently Mary found her- 
self directly in the road of a huge flat 
being shifted from one side of the stage 
to the other, and dashing hurriedly into 

VOL. II. C 



18 PENH ALA. 

the dense shadow between two stacks of 
side wings in the grooves, she found her- 
self literally in John Smith's arms. He 
had seen her there on his way from his 
dressing-room, and had stopped to take 
one more last look from the shelter of the 
friendly darkness. 

Mary turned and found her eyes close 
to his. 

' Oh, it is you !' she said, with a foolish 
little laugh. And then, without the faint- 
est warning, with her face close to his, 
she broke into a passionate burst of sob- 
bing, and gasped out, 'You are going away 
— without a word — to me, John — I can't 
bear it — take me with you — take me, for 
pity's sake.' 

John's face went white and rigid, like 
the face of a corpse. He took her by the 
hand and steered her through the ob- 



PENHALA. 19 

scurity, past the hall-keeper's den, out 
into the street. 

'Who told you?' he asked then, in a 
dry, cracked voice. ' I did not mean you 
to know. Who told you ?' 

But she could not answer for her sobs ; 
and he went on : 

' Do you know what you are doing when 
you say such a thing as that to me ? You 
are tempting a poor wretch as man was 
never tempted before — you are asking me 
to enter a paradise where I have no right 
to be, and making me almost forget that 
what would be my heaven would be 
your hell. Mary, how could [ bear 
to bring upon you the shame of my 
past ?' 

Mary was desperate now. She could 
not do worse than she had already done, 
that was some consolation. 

c2 



20 PENHALA. 

' But you would not hesitate to bring 
upon me the misery of a broken heart,' she 
murmured, between her sobs. 

John lifted a clenched hand above his 
head, and laughed aloud. 

' This is the first time in all my life 
that I have tried to do the right thing, 
simply because it is right; and see what 
comes of it.' 

The sublime misery of his laugh shocked 
her, and frightened her into silence. 
They were some distance from the theatre 
now, and the streets were very silent and 
deserted. She could hear his quick breaths 
coming and going, just like one in the 
throes of a supreme agony. The thought 
urged her on. Why should he endure all 
this suffering, when she was able and 
walling to lessen it ? 

'I must speak!' she said, 'whatever 



PENHALA. 21 

€omes of it, I must speak ! How should 
I forgive myself by-and-by, if — if you 
grew reckless and unhappy again, and all 
because I had not the courage to speak 
out at the right moment. If to stay with 
me will be heaven to you, it will be heaven 
to me also. And, don't you see, it is be- 
cause your heart was so set on doing right 
that this touch of happiness has come to 
you ?' She was getting bolder now, her 
voice, comino; straio^ht from her swellino^ 
heart, was recovering some touch of its 
natural sweetness. ' The shame of your 
past Avill never come near me, John, — it is 
past, past and done with. And even if it 
were not — ' she paused a moment, and 
held back her breath, like one who takes 
a headlong plunge into a shadowy abyss, 
and then went on in a whisper — ' even if 
it were not done with, I would rather 



22 PENH ALA. 

share your sorrow and shame than be 
heedless and happy by myself.' 

He had been walking with his head bent 
forward, and his eyes on the pavement. 
Now he threw back his shoulders and 
raised his face, so that the light from the 
lamp fell on it, and she saw how it was 
lined and drawn, by the vehemence of his 
feelings during those moments of inward 
struggle. 

' So be it !' he said. ' There is a fate in 
these things that no effort of human will 
can turn aside. You know what this 
means to me ! You don't need me to tell 
you that I love you, that I will try to 
make you happy, and all the rest of the 
feeble twaddle ! I have no words that 
would give you the faintest idea of my 
feelings. I was going into the outer dark- 
ness, and you have led me back into the 



PENHALA. 23 

sunshine again. No man living could ever 
rightly deserve this precious gift of your 
love, least of all I — a publican and a sin- 
ner of the worst type — but even I can do 
as much as the best among them — I can 
strive to deserve it — and if I fail — well, it 
shall not be through any wilful fault of 
my own.' 

He laid a hand on either side of her 
face, and turned it up in the lamplight, 
and pressed his lips to hers, and looked 
into her eyes with a lingering pain even 
yet in his own. 

' Such sweetness and purity !' he whis- 
pered. ' Is it wonderful that my heart 
should fail me at the thought of linking it 
with my sinful defilement.' 

There was a violent outcry when the 
two of them reached the Burlingtons' 



24 PENHALA. 

hotel ; but the first glance at their faces 
quieted it. 

' The fish is boiled to a pulp and the 
birds are as cold as charity,' said Burling- 
ton ; ' but if you two have been occupied 
in burying the hatchet, I'll admit that the 
supper has been sacrificed in a good cause, 
and eat it without a murmur. I knew 
there must have been a row when you 
came to me this afternoon in such a flam- 
ing hurry to take your departure, Johnny. 
I suppose you're not quite so set as you 
were on giving us the " go by " altogether, 
are you ? Don't you think my plan will 
be the better one, after all ? A week with 
us when Miss Fentimore and you sing to- 
gether, and a week with the number two 
crowd when the second tenor sings with 
Morelli?' 



PENHALA. 25 

And John smiled and admitted that he 
thought it would. 

And now that John's resistance was 
beaten down he fell straightway into the 
other extreme, and grew so impatient and 
unreasonable that, in self-defence, Mary 
was compelled to give in ; and in less than 
a month from the date of the discussion 
concerning John Smith's beard, ' Mary 
Fentimore' on the bills was, in private life, 
transformed into ' ^Irs. John Smith.' 

Very much to the surprise of the rest 
of the company, Madame Morelli displayed 
the most marked amiability towards the 
young couple. ' Making a virtue of neces- 
sity,' Burlington declared, with a shrug 
of his shoulders and a downward pressure 
of the corners of his mouth. And Mrs. 



26 PENHALA. 

Burlington was a little vexed with him for 
his want of charity. 

' It was natural,' she said, ' that Morelli 
should have taken it to heart when she 
found herself passed over for another ; but 
that was no reason why she was to be 
held up to universal ridicule for the rest 
of her life. She would have been some- 
thino' more than mortal if she had been 
able to hide all sign of her vexation ; and 
it only showed what a good-natured woman 
she was at heart, that she should bear na 
malice for what was passed, and hold out 
the hand of good-fellowship to the young 
couple.' 

Burlington did not argue the point — he 
never argued with his wife ; he was very 
fond of her, and he did not see the force 
of wasting his breath to no purpose — he 
just put his hands in his pocket, and 



PENHALA. 27 

walked away whistling under his breath. 
And Mrs. Burlington's eyes flashed as she 
looked after him ; she knew quite well 
what the little performance meant, but 
she had recovered her temper by the time 
they met again, so there was no harm 
done. 

And John and Mary were happy, with 
that still quiet happiness which hides its 
currents in its depths, far away below the 
surface, out of sight and hearing of all but 
itself. It seemed to Mary that the beauti- 
ful glow at her heart, during those early 
months of her marriao^e, was a thino- too 
holy, too sacred to be talked about ; and if 
it seemed like that to her, how must it have 
seemed to him? 



28 



CHAPTER VI. 



A GHASTLY MISTAKE. 



As a rule, Mr. Burlington's number one 
company appeared only in what are known, 
in managerial parlance, as ' numloer one 
towns ', but now and again, under special 
circumstances, lie made exceptions to this 
rule, and this visit to Doncaster was one 
of the exceptions. From a theatrical point 
of view Doncaster could scarcely be con- 
sidered a first-class town, but Burlington 
had booked the theatre there for one of 



PEXHALA. 29 

the big race-weeks, and under these cir- 
cumstances he had thought it worth his 
while to bring his number one company to 
sing in the horsey little town, and the 
speculation turned out thoroughly sound. 

On the Friday evening the opera was 
the ever popular 'Carmen,' and half-an- 
hour before the doors were open there was 
something of a crowd gathered round the 
entrance. 

The town was as full as it could hold 

with the usual omnium gatherum of the 

~ racing fraternity, and among the rest 

were John Smith's old chums of the 

burnt-cork persuasion. 

As they passed the theatre on their way 
to their lodgings, after a day on the course, 
the youngest member of the troupe — 
Dandy Bennett, the one who had been 
the most to the front in the set against 



30 PENHALA. 

Jolin — had his attention attracted by the 
crowd round the door, and the next 
theatre bill he saw he stopped to find out 
what was drawing such an unusually 
large audience. 

John Smith is not as a rule a very 
striking name on a bill, but Dandy Ben- 
nett, seeing it there among the cast of 
Bizet's opera, was struck by it in a most 
remarkable manner. The sight of the 
unromantic appellation, printed in clear 
type opposite the character of Don Jose, 
came as a revelation to him. 

What more likely than that the ' Mar- 
kiss ' had gone off on the tip-top professional 
lay? That would account for his long 
disappearance from all his old cribs. 
Bennett wondered he had not thought of 
it before. 

A cove who could chant like a nightin- 



PENHALA. 31 

gale, and patter like a real toff, would not 
have to go l3egging long for a berth among 
the opera people. 

To the rest Bennett said nothing of the 
discovery he believed he had made, but 
as soon as he had o;ot rid of his business 
attire he went off to spend the evening 
by himself, and he went straight to the 
gallery entrance of the Theatre Royal, 
and paid his shilling — double price during 
the opera season — and passed up to see 
what he should see. 

It happened that to-night was one of 
John's * extra journey' nights. To-mor- 
row morning he was due in Xewcastle for 
a rehearsal with the number tAvo company. 
As soon as the curtain was down he had to 
rush to his dressing-room, change as quickly 
as possible, and hurry off to the railway- 
station to catch the Scotch express, passing 



32 PENHALA. 

through Doncaster about a quarter before 
midnight. 

And Mary went with him to see him oif, 
as she always did. John laughed at her 
a little sometimes, and told her that, now 
they were getting such old married folks, 
it was time she dropped the sentimental 
custom. But she shook her head quietly, 
and took her own way in the matter. She 
hated these weekly separations. If Bur- 
lington had known what a real trouble 
they were to her, he would, in his marked 
partiality for the young couple, have 
altered his arrangements in such a way as 
to avoid these constant partings. But 
Mary did not belong to the tribe of grum- 
blers, and, in any case, she would have 
found it impossible to enter a protest on 
this particular subject. ISJ'either the love 
between herself and her husband, nor any- 



PENHALA. 38 

thing pertaining to it, was a subject she 
could discuss openly with a third person. 
So, sooner than expose herself to the man- 
ager's good-natured banter, she endured 
the wretchedness of this half-and-half life, 
conscious of a presentiment that harm 
would come of it sooner or later, a pre- 
sentiment which all John's tender badi- 
nage was powerless to overcome. 

On this especial night John had some 
business to transact with the local man- 
ager before leaving, so the cab to take him 
to the station was brought to the front of 
the theatre instead of to the stage- door, to 
save him the journey round to the back 
of the house again. And thus it fell out 
that he left for Newcastle, without hearing 
or seeing anything of a man who was 
asking for him at the stage entrance. 
Madame Morelli was passing at the time 
VOL. II. i> 



34 PENH ALA. 

the enquiry was made, and the man's 
cockney twang caught her attention, and 
led her to notice him more particularly. 

Bennett had assumed his very best 
manner for the occasion, but he was a 
rowdy of the most j^ronounced type, and 
no effort of his own could disguise the 
fact for a moment. Morelli recognised the 
'' ikey ' get-up and the Clerkenwell idiom 
in an instant, and was curious to know 
what this sort of person could want with 
^Monseio^neur, the husband of the Fentimore 
creature.' 

When she got outside she loitered a 
little, as if undecided on some point, and, 
brino-ino; her indecision to a sudden end, 
she turned sharply to her maid. 

' I have left a letter on my dressing- 
table,' she said ; ' go back at once and 
find it. 1 won't wait — I'll take a cab 



PENHALA. 35 

home. The letter is most important — 
don't fail to bring it with you.' 

The girl had scarcely left her side when 
she faced round to Bennett, slouchino: alono* 
the pavement just behind her. 

' I think I heard you asking for Mr. 
Smith, just now?' she asked, amiably. 
' Did the hall-keeper explain to you that 
he had gone on to Newcastle?' 

' The cove at the door told me he warn't 
here,' said he, huffily. ' He didn't say 
nothin' else, and he might easy ha' said 
that more civil.' 

' You wanted to see him?' 

' I had some sich idea in my head.' 

' It is unfortunate you should have 
missed him. Did he ' — this was a sudden 
suspicion — ' did he expect you here to- 
night?' 

' Lor' lum-mi, no, mum ! It was only a 

d2 



36 PEXHALA. 

sudden fancv on mv part to have a bit of 
a jaw Tvitli an old pal. I never knoTved 
he Avas here till I see'd him on the stao:e 
to-night, an' I'd been wanting a word or 
two with him for months past.' 

' It is very unfortunate,' said madame 
again. ' Xo doubt he would have been 
glad to shake an old friend by the hand.' 

This suggestion failing to draw any 
response, she tried again. 

' I suppose you could not leave a mes- 
sage for him with me ? He is a very great 
friend of mine — your message would be 
quite safe with me, and I would deliver it 
faithfully.' 

He did not answer immediately, and, 
fancvins: she saw in his manner some in- 
clination to accept her offer, she promptly 
hailed a passing cab. 

' T\^e can't talk comfortably on the pave- 



PENHALA. 37 

ment,' she said. ' If you will come to my 
rooms, you shall say what you have to say 
without the fear of being overheard. Any 
friend of Mr. Smith's is a friend of mine. 
Get on the box — it is only two minutes' 
drive.' 

' If I'd bin a dook you couldn't ha' 
treated me better!' said Bennett, a quarter 
of an hour later, as he rose from the table 
and passed the back of his hand across his 
mouth. ' I ain't had such a supper as 
that, nor yet such tipple neither, for many 
and many a night. And now I've got some- 
thing to say to you.' 

Morelli, in the easy-chair on the other 
side of the room — with her hat still on, 
and her large loose cloak still lying round 
her as it had fallen when she unfastened it, 
— experienced a little thrill of anticij)ation 
as she heard. During the last few minutes 



38 PENHALA. 

she had been arriving slowly but surely at 
the conclusion that the sacrifice of her 
own specially prepared supper, and her 
unexampled condescension, had been so 
much wasted eiFort. Mr. Bennett had 
proved himself quite capable of holding his 
tongue when he did not want to speak. 
And even up to the very end of the inter- 
view, though his heart was warmed by his 
frequent applications to the brandy, he did 
not say a word more than he meant to say. 
He told Morelli neither more nor less- 
than he wished her to know. 

' You've done more'n the right thing by 
me, mum ; and 111 do the right thing by 
you in turn. It seems to me — I don't 
mean no liberty, so don't you take it as 
sich — it seems to me that there's summat 
more'n friendship between you and this 
old pal of mine, and if there ain't yet, it 



PENH ALA. 39 

seems to me partickler likely that there 
may be some time or another. ^ ery 
well ; now what I ses to you is this — 
There mustn't, on no account whatever, be 
nothing of the sort. He's a shifty one, is 
John Smith, and you may take it from me 
that he ain't got no sorter right to keep 
company with any young woman what- 
ever.' 

Morelli went white to her lips. This 
was so much better, so infinitely better, 
than anything she had hoped for. And it 
was natural that Bennett, seeing her sud- 
den pallor, should put it down to the 
wrong cause. 

' Don't you take it to heart like that, 
mum,' he said ; ' he ain't worth it. If 
you'd seen the other poor gal as he throwed 
over, as I see her a month ago, with her 
eyes all red and sore with crying. When 



40 PENHALA. 

he left her, three or four years ago, to do 
the best she could for herself, he was mean 
enough to steal her marriage lines away 
from her ; and then last summer, what does 
he do but get word sent to her that he is 
dead. Well, she'd made all her plans to 
go to Australia, just to get away from him, 
you know ; but when she heard he was 
dead she changed her mind and didn't 
go ; but comes up to London instead, and 
goes into service, and begins asking about, 
in her humble little way, if her dead hus- 
band hadn't left any belongings behind 
him. She hadn't much chance of finding 
things out, you see, and so it was a pre- 
cious long time before I heard anything 
about it. At last somebody tells her that 
me and a John Smith had been in busi- 
ness together, and she comes along to ask 
me if it was her John Smith, and if he 



PENHALA. 41 

hadn't left lier marriage lines behind him. 
Well, it happened that I'd got a bundle of 
John Smith's papers in keeping for him, 
and these blessed marriage lines were 
among 'em. So when she tells me her 
name, and I sees as it's the same as in the 
lines, I up and tells her that her beautiful 
husband ain't no more dead than I am. 
And then there was a pretty kettle offish, 
you bet. She was for taking the packet 
of papers there and then, but I couldn't 
see my way to that — he might hold me 
responsible for them, you see — so I told 
her I was pretty sure she could get an- 
other set of marriage lines by payin' for 
'em, and advised her to go to a lawyer 
about it. The one that John Smith took 
away from her I've got here with the 
other papers. Would you like to see 
it?' 



42 PENHALA. 

She was eager enough now ; her hand 
shook so much, when she took the paper 
from him, that she was obliged to lay it 
on the table to read it. 

And even as she read it she began to 
believe that there was a mistake some- 
where. 

' John Smith, boiler-maker,' she read ; 
and she found it all but impossible to be- 
lieve that the John Smith she knew was^ 
or ever had been, a boiler-maker. But 
whether it was really so or not mattered 
not an iota to her, so long as she could 
turn the mistake to her own purpose. 

' You will leave this paper with me,' she 
said, authoritatively. * I will return it to 
Mr. Smith myself.' 

Bennett looked at her shiftily and 
changed his foot. 

' What proof have I,' she went on, ' of 



PENH ALA. 43 

the truth of this accusation, if I have not 
the paper to show him?' 

Still he did not speak, only looked 
furtively at her. 

' Pah !' she cried, harshly. ' I forgot I 
With you English it is always a matter of 
price. I will give you a pound for the 
piece of paper.' 

' I don't say I'm above taking the 
money,' said Bennett, slowly ; ' but there's 
something else as well — I don't know 
much about the law — perhaps he can come 
down on me for that paper, perhaps he 
can't. But if you'll give me the so v., and 
sign a bit of paper as well, saying as 
you've received the paper from me to pass 
on to the right owner, you shall have it 
and welcome. You've done the right 
thing by me to-night ' 

She cut him short with a contemptuous 



44 PENHALA. 

' Pooh !' and passed through into her bed- 
room to sign the required receipt. 

Mary was at breakfast — one of her lone- 
ly breakfasts, how cordially she hated 
them — on the Saturday, when Morelli 
walked into her sitting-room unannounced, 
and suo^o'ested that the two of them should 
take advantage of this lovely day to have 
a few hours in the country. 

' Let us take a carriage and go for a 
long drive in the sweet air, and have our 
luncheon at some nice, wholesome little 
country inn, and come back fresh and 
w^ell for your eveuing's work,' she said. 

And Mary, wondering a little — for with 
all her recent friendliness Morelli had 
never before made such an advance as 
this towards real intimacy — accepted the 
suggestion gratefully, if not gladly. She 



PENHALA. 45 

thought a drive would perhaps brace her 
up a little. Her health had not been of 
the very best this last month or two, but 
she was anxious that her indisposition 
should not lessen her professional value, 
at all events for some time to come. 

So they went for their drive, and found 
their nice little country inn, and ordered 
their luncheon ; and it was while they 
were waiting its appearance that Morelli 
turned round from strumming on the 
window-pane, and asked a question with 
such abruptness, that the very manner of 
it was enough to set Mary shaking. 

' Mrs. Smith, do you know much of 
your husband's life before he joined Mr. 
Burlington's company?' 

Mary went red and then white, with a 
sudden sickening terror. Had this woman 
heard of the accusation hano^ino; over John? 



46 PENHALA. 

• The saints defend us !' cried Morelli, 
genuinely astonished at the effect of her 
words. ' It can't be that you know already, 
and married him knowing it? No, I'll 
never believe that you, a woman who had 
such severe notions of right and wrong, 
could so have committed herself.' 

* I don't understand,' murmured Mary, 
trying to soften her stiffened lips. ' Will 
you say what you mean ?' 

' Well, I mean this !' retorted the other, 
taking a paper from her pocket, and 
spreading it out on the table at Mary's 
elbow. ' John Smith was already a mar- 
ried man when he came into the company, 
and his wife is still living — or was living 
a month ago, for I was talking to a person 
last night who had an interview with her 
no further back. You don't believe 
me?' 



PENH ALA. 47 

Mary had. not spoken, it was only by 
the incredulous horror of her gaze that 
she challenofed the assertion. 

' I did not suppose you would accept 
my unsupported word on such a matter, 
so I took the trouble to get hold of some- 
thing that would convince you. You 
know a certificate of marriage when you 
see one. Look here, and. satisfy your- 
self.' 

She moved her hand as she finished, 
and Mary leant her white face forward 
towards the paper, and then, with a queer 
little o^uro^le in her throat, her head sank 
yet more forward, till it touched the table 
and lay there. 

' Of course she has had a violent shock 
of some kind,' was the first thing the 
doctor said when he saw her. 

' She heard some bad news this morn- 



48 PENHALiV. 

ing, yes,' answered Morelli, trying in vain 
to speak quietly ; for the sight of Mary's 
marble white face on the couch cushion 
made her teeth chatter with fright. Had 
she killed her outright ? she was asking 
herself over and over again. 

' And are you the person who commu- 
nicated this bad news to her ?' asked the 
doctor again, in his driest, most profes- 
sional tone. 

He was saying to himself that there was 
something he did not like about the case, 
something outlandish and mysterious. 
Perhaps Morelli's exaggerated fright was 
chiefly responsible for this impression. 

^ Whatever the trouble was, you should 
have broken it more gently, out of con- 
sideration for her condition.' 

' Her condition ?' repeated Morelli, 
blankly ; and then she clasped her hands 



PENHALA. 49 

across her mouth to stifle her shriek of 
enlighteiiment. ' Sanctissima ]\Iaria!' she 
moaned, ' I did not know ! as I hope for 
heaven I did not know.' 

The medical man said nothing, only 
shrugged his shoulders in a way which 
implied his inability to understand the 
denseness of some people, and resumed 
his efforts to restore animation to the 
patient. 

But a long time passed by before he 
met with any sign of success, so long, that 
Morelli had given up all hope, and was 
already calling herself a murderess when 
Mary opened her eyes, and looked round 
her in feeble wonder. But it was a mere' 
glimmer of consciousness ; before she 
could recognise Morelli she was off again 
in another swoon, which lasted almost as 
long as the first. 

VOL. II. E 



50 PENHALA. 

' There is no question but that she is in 
a very serious condition,' said the doctor. 
' If her family are anywhere within reach, 
they should be summoned at once. I 
should advise you to set about it without 
delay, madam.' 

But this was what Morelli could not 
bring herself to do. The thought of fac- 
ing John Smith's anger and his passionate 
reproaches was more than she could con- 
template calmly. If this poor, feeble crea- 
ture was really going to die — she began 
to tremble again at the possibility — what 
was the o:ood of dras-aino- the wretched 
man away from his professional duties, just 
to listen to a few incoherent words, to 
snatch a kiss or two from pale, unrespon- 
sive lips ? Xo, it would be quite as well 
for him not to come till all was over, 
quite as well ; and for herself it would 



PENHALA. 51 

be a great deal better. How would it 
benefit anybody for him to know that it 
was tbe news of his previous marriage, 
imparted by her, that had killed his wife ? 
Xo, on all accounts it was better he should 
know nothing till all was over. 

' She has no friends anywhere near,' 
Morelli answered the doctor, and, as he 
heard, he liked the aspect of the case less 
and less. ' I will undertake the entire 
responsibility of not communicating wdth 
them, for the present at all events.' 

He did not urge the matter ; he had 
spoken as plainly as he could, the rest 
was in other people's hands. 

Towards the end of the afternoon Mo- 
relli bespoke the services of one of the 
landlady's daughters, to sit with the pa- 
tient and follow out the doctor's few 
simple directions, and returned to Don- 

E 2 



OZ PENHALA. 

caster by rail — the carriage had been 
dismissed hours ago — with a promise to 
be back in a couple of hours. 

When she, went to take her last look at 
Mary before starting, she was lying so like 
a dead thing that it seemed to her that 
the end must be already close at hand. 

She was shocked and horrified; more, 
perhaps, because she knew so exactly 
"what people would say about her share 
in the affair, than because of any pity for 
those two people, who had dared to be so 
happy with one another at her ex^Dcnse. 
When Burlington knew precisely how 
things had happened, he would turn on 
her like a tiger, and call her a murderess 
to her face. And the rest of the company 
too — these Smiths had always been more 
liked than she was — how would they all 
behave to her when they knew that Mrs. 



PEN HAL A. 53 

Smith's death was directly due to her 
officious interference, in a matter which 
was really no concern of hers ? 

"Why, they would make her life insup- 
portable to her when they knew . . . 
When they knew ? ... But need they 
ever know ? . . . Suppose Mary died to- 
night, out there in that lonely little way- 
side inn ? Why need the company ever 
know anything at all about her death ? 
Why know, even, that she was dead at 
all? In all the wide world she, Nita 
Morelli, was the only person who knew 
where Miss Fentimore, Mr. Burlington's 
favourite young prima donna^ was at the 
present moment. If Mary died, and she 
chose to hold her tongue, how was anyone 
to know that the Mrs. Smith who died so 
suddenly at the ' Maypole Inn,' at Hirst- 
Moss, was Mr. Burlington's missing pima 



54 PENHALA. 

donna ? And, by the saints above ! there 
was another inducement to hold her 
tongue — stronger than all the rest put 
together, stronger even than her desire 
to avoid the universal execration of her 
daily associates. By leaving John Smith 
in ignorance of his wife's fate, she would 
be revenged, ay, up to the hilt, for the 
slight he had put upon her. He might 
possibly think — oh, the flash of gratified 
spite that the notion brought to her ! — 
he might even, in time, come to doubt his 
wife's honour, and what an unceasing 
torment the doubt would be! A revenge 
worth having of a certainty, a revenge 
that would go far to compensate her for 
all she had endured at his hands ! 

The thoughts followed so quick, one on 
the other, that by the time she stepped 
from the train at Doncaster station her 



PENHALA. b^ 

head was buzzing like the machinery in 
a mill. But she had got a clear grip of 
the one main idea — her role just nowAvas 
ignorance ; in the first outcry and hubbub 
over Miss Fentimore's disa^Dpearance she 
had merely to hold her tongue, or to say 
as little as was compatible with appear- 
ances. 

She had been home some time, and was 
quietly sipping her tea, when there came 
such a ring at the door-bell as startled 
everyone in the house into instant atten- 
tion. It was the call-boy from the theatre. 

' The overture was rung in, and Miss 
Fentimore was not in the house. Did 
madame know where she was ?' 'But 
why?' ' Well, he had been already to Miss 
Fentimore's lodgings, and the landlady 
there had said that Miss Fentimore and 
madame had gone out driving together in 



^6 PENHALA. 

the morning, and so he thought perhaps — ' 
* Then he was a fool to think ! Miss Fenti- 
more had met a friend, before they had 
been out ten minutes, and she, madame 
herself, had had to satisfy herself with a 
lonely drive after all. She knew nothing 
of Miss Fentimore's movements since 
eleven o'clock this morning.' 

The boy tore away again back to the 
theatre to report progress. 

Of course, in a well-conducted company 
like Burlington's, the principal parts were 
all carefully under-studied ; still there is 
always a certain amount of flutter involved 
in sending the under-study on at a mo- 
ment's notice ; and it was Saturday night, 
too, and Saturday night audiences, if they 
are the quickest to appreciate merit, are 
also the quickest to resent shortcomings, 
as all provincial managers know. 



PENHALA. 57 

Burlinorton was in a fume the nio^lit 
through. He was not singing himself, but 
he never left the stage ; sticking in the 
prompt entrance loyally, and following the 
under-study through her part, note by note, 
from the rise of the curtain to its fall. 

And then, and not till then, he began to 
-ask and wonder about Miss Fentimore. 
She had not returned to her lodgings, be- 
cause they had promised to send word 
instantly on her arrival. What in the 
name of mystery had happened to her ? 

Madame Morelli, who had gone out into 
the country to stay with some friends till 
the next afternoon, had been down during 
the evening, to give him what few par- 
ticulars she knew. But they did not 
amount to much. 

' In fact,' he said to his wife, as they 
discussed the affair over their tete-a-tete 



58 PENHALA. 

supper, — ' in fact, it seemed to me that 
she did not like talking about it at alL 
She either could not or would not tell me 
what this friend of Fentimore's was like. 
Beyond the fact that he Avas well-dressed, 
and looked like a gentleman, she could tell 
me nothing whatever.' 

Mrs. Burlington looked a little bit tri- 
umphant. Her partiality for Mary had 
never been so strong as her husband's ; 
she would possibly have had more real 
liking for the young soprano if she had 
been less attractive in herself. 

' I always told you that Morelli Avas a 
good-natured creature at heart,' she said. 
' She knows something more of this affair 
than she likes to say ; she doesn't choose ta 
be the first to blacken Miss Fentimore's 
character.' 

'What damned nonsense!' exclaimed 



PENHALA. 59 

Burlington, throwing down his knife and 
fork and getting up from the table in a 
rage. ' Is there any living thing under 
God's sun so cruel as a jealous woman, I 
wonder? If Fentimore squinted, or had 
a hump on her back, you other ones would 
all be ready to take her part through thick 
and thin, and declare she was a saint till 
the end of the chapter. But the poor 
little beo^o^ar has the misfortune to be un- 
commonly pretty, and so you all hate her, 
and wouldn't give her the benefit of the 
doubt — no, not to save your own souls, 
you wouldn't. She'll turn up all right at 
the station to-morrow — see if she doesn't ! 
And she'll be able to explain the whole 
affair without a hitch ; and then I hope 
you'll have the grace to be thoroughly 
ashamed of yourself for your uncharitable 
conclusions.' 



60 PENHALA. 

And, having relieved himself of some of 
the ferment caused by the evening's worry, 
the angry man went downstairs to smoke 
a cigar in the public smoke-room, leaving 
his wife too indignant even to cry. To be 
told by your own husband that you are 
jealous of another woman's good looks ! 
The infamy of it ! 

It was a quarter to twelve when Morelli 
got back to the ' Maypole Inn.' She had 
had first to wait for the train, and then 
she had walked up from the station, being 
anxious as far as possible to avoid observa- 
tion in her present comings and goings. 

The house was already shut, but the 
landlady came running herself in answer 
to Morelli 's knock. 

'Oh, you will be so glad!' she cried, 
under her breath, her good honest face 
alight with pleasure. ' Mrs. Smith has 



PENHALA. 61 

taken a turn, a great turn, and the doctor 
has every hope of pulling her through. 
Though indeed,' she added, Avith a touch 
of regret, ' he says she will never be up 
to much ao^ain until after the birth of her 
baby.' 

Morelli went in and sat down without a 
word. 

In what a position had she placed her- 
self now ! To-morrow morning Mary 
would send in to the Burlingtons to come 
out to her, and Morelli's lies would be 
exposed. She was desperate. She almost 
felt that if the opportunity were to present 
itself of putting the wretched young 
woman out of the way, she would be jus- 
tified in taking it. Was not self-preser- 
vation the first law of nature ? What to 
do for the best for herself? That was the 
question that was troubling her. And 



62 PENHALA. 

after all it was Mary who smoothed the 
thorns out of her path. 

She was alone with the patient the next 
time she awoke, and she was startled by 
the perfect lucidity of her opening words. 

' You have returned then ? They told 
me you had promised to come back. I 
am glad. I want you to help me to write 
to my — to John, will you ?' 

' Are you fit to do anything of that sort 
just now?' asked Morelli. 

'Fit?' echoed Mary, with a smile that 
would have reached even Morelli's pity, if 
she had not been so impenetrably encased 
in her own selfish anxieties. ' Fit ? Does 
it matter whether I am fit or not? Does 
it matter whether I die or live ? Perhaps 
it would be better if I were to die. What 
is there before me ? And my poor little 
babe — what sort of a life will it be born to?' 



PENHALA. 63 

' If I had only known,' said Morelli, ' I 
would have been more careful. Why 
were you so secret about it? Does— A^ 
know?' 

' No. I want to tell him. The babe 
may die, you know — I hope it will — but I 
think, in case it lives, I think he ought to 
know. For me, I don't want ever to see 
him again — I should be afraid of myself — 
I — I loved him very much. And indeed,' 
she went on, with a new touch of energy 
showing itself in her manner, ' you must 
not put all the blame on him for what has 
happened. It Avas more my doing than 
his. He did his best to get away from 
me, and I would not let him go. I see 
now why he tried so hard to shake me 
off — I did not understand then. I 
thought it was only his exaggerated 
humility.' 



64 PENHALA. 

' You will not be able to sing again for 
some lime,' said Morelli, presently, her 
head full of the difficulties Mary's return 
to the company would bring on her. 

'Sing?' she repeated, drearily. 'I do 
not think I shall ever sino* a^ain. There 
is nothing in this world I would not rather 
do to earn my living. I want to cut myself 
off from the past as thoroughly as if I were 
dead. The old life would be so fall of 
memories — I could not bear it. Besides, 
he might be there, and, willingly, I will 
never stand face to face with him again, 
till we meet in God's presence. No, I 
cannot forgive him — not yet. It was 
cruel, oh, it was cruel, after all that Avas 
past. Xo, there is no chance of my ever 
returning among the people we knew 
together — he and I. I think I would kill 
myself rather.' 



PENH ALA. 65 

She lay quiet for a little while and then 
beo;an ao;ain. 

' I have been thinking all the evening 
through, trying hard to get away from the 
hideous cruelty of his conduct. I can 
only see one possible way out ; but that is 
possible, and so I have determined to give 
him the chance of it. The name, John 
Smith, is such a common one, it might 
possibly not be my John Smith, after 
all.' 

' You forget ! I saw a man last night who 
knew them both — both the people whose 
names are on the certificate.' 

' Yes, I had forgotten that. Still, even 
so, I must give him a chance to clear him- 
self of the foul cruelty of this charge — I 
must !' 

' Certainly you shall — you shall do what 
you like.' 

VOL. II. F 



66 PENHALA. 

• You will lielp me to write to him? I 
know just what I am going to say. And 
if he does not answer the letter in the way 
I ask, I shall know then that he has done 
me this cruel wrong.' 

On Sunday, when Morelli got back 
to Doncaster, she found that Burlington 
had wired to Smith the news of his wife's 
disappearance, and he had replied that he 
was on his way to them. 

' It's confoundedly awkward,' said Bur- 
linofton. ' Our train for Birmino^ham 
leaves before he can get here. I suppose 
I must wait to see him. And yet I don't 
see what good I can do.' 

And then Morelli justified Mrs. Burling- 
ton's good opinion of her. 

' Let me stay behind and see him,' she 
said. ' I can't say much to comfort him 
certainly ; but I was the last person who 



PEXHALA. 67 

saw his wife. I can tell him more than 
you could. Let me stay behind, and come 
on to Binningham on Monday morning.' 

And Burlington's prejudice was quite 
conquered at last, and he declared with 
great heartiness that it was ' damned good- 
natured of her — that it was !' and went on 
his way with his company to Birmingham, 
glad at heart, if the truth must be told, 
to have got out of a very unpleasant 
task. 



f2 



6S 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE SECOND TENOR MAKES HIS EXIT. 

When Madame Morelli had seen the 
company safely en route for Birmingham, 
she went straight to the house where the 
Smiths had been lodging, to prepare the 
landlady for John's visit. 

' If I shall not inconvenience you,' she 
said, ' I should like to wait here for him. 
I promised Mr. Burlington I would see him, 
and tell him all I knew about his wife's 
disappearance.' 

' No,' the landlady said, ' it would not 



PENHALA. 69 

inconvenience her at all for Madame to 
wait there. She was not using the room 
until to-morrow. But Madame would 
excuse her — it was her dinner-hour, and 
her man liked to have her at the table on 
Sunday, seeing it was the only day in the 
week he was home to his meals.' 

Madame excused her right willingly, 
and she went off to the bosom of her 
family, leaving the handsome Italian 
enthroned among Mary's household gods. 

The room was pretty with the tasteful 
trifles the young people had gathered 
round them since their marriage. They — 
Mary especially — had been in receipt of 
excellent salaries, and though Mary had 
insisted upon a weekly addition to their 
banking account, they had enjoyed their 
income too. 

Madame went round the room, looking 



70 PENHALA. 

at the artistic knick-knacks on brackets 
and tables. 

After all, what a fool that white-faced, 
strait-laced English girl was ! They 
suited each other, those two, and — the 
mischief was done past recall. Why 
should she go out of her way to break up 
her own life and the life of the man she 
professed to love ? That was an English- 
woman's idea of love ! To go and leave a 
man for a quibble of conscience. Pah ! 
If it had been Mta Morelli instead of 
Mary Fentimore things would have been 
different. Yes, my faith, rather! There 
would have been a bad quarter-of-an-hour 
for John Smith when they met again, oh^ 
a very bad quarter-of-an-hour indeed ! and 
then she would have said — ' What is, must 
be. Am I the one to cut off my own nose 
to spite my face? No! Come, then, kiss^ 



PENHALA. 71 

my John, kiss, and be friends ; 1 love thee 
too well to cast thee into another woman's 
arms ! Only, see thou to it that thou dost 
not seek to take advantage of this forgive- 
ness of mine. Sooner than that, it were 
better for thee that thou shouldst go now 
this minute, and slit thy throat after the 
gruesome English fashion — ay, a thousand 
times better !' 

And then they would have been happy 
again — as happy, that is to say, as one can 
hope to be in this strange, incomjDrehensible 
hurly-burly of a world. 

But Mary Fentimore — oh, la ! Her 
sense of propriety was shocked, and 
straightway to this fetich she offered up 
the sacrifice of two young lives ! Droll 
dispositions these Englishwomen ! 

She paused for a while by the writing- 
table in the window, turning the orna- 



72 PENHALA. 

mental blotting-book in her hands this 
way and that. Then she took a sheet of 
note-paper from her j)ocket and unfolded 
it. It was written on the two inner pages 
only. 

' I am writing to you for two reasons, 
John,' the writer began; ' first to tell you 
something which I think I ought to have 
told you weeks ago, but was prevented by 
a foolish sentiment ; or one which at least 
seems foolish to me now, when we are 
separated, most likely for ever. These few 
months we have lived so entirely for one 
another, that it seemed to me you could 
not helj) but resent this upspringing of a 
new interest in my life, the strongest, the 
most absorbing interest I have ever known. 
I have loved you, John — you cannot doubt 
it — and yet, now, I sometimes ask myself 
if I have ever before known the fullest 



PEXHALA. 73 

depths of my own heart, — that utterly 
selfless love which could count the sacri- 
fice of everything which makes life pleas- 
ant as nothing, when the benefit of its 
object is the purpose in view.' Here the 
first page ended, and Morelli, instead of 
going straight on to the top of the next, 
threw her eye back to the beginning and 
read that far down again. 

Yes, left unfinished like that, it was 
really open to very grave misconception, 
very grave misconception indeed. She 
went on then Avith the second page : 

' Such a love has no shadow of self in 
it, no thought of recompense, no looking 
forward to hope of reward — the love of a 
mother for her child. Think what it has 
been for me, with this hope still fresh and 
new in my heart, to read the enclosed, and 



74 PEXHALA. 

to be told that you are the John Smith 
referred to, and that both parties to the 
contract are still alive. I don't say a 
word of reproach — if this is so, what 
words of mine could express my wrongs ; 
if it is not so, you deserve none. John, if 
you tell me this is a mistake, that you are 
not the person named, I will believe you 
against the world. I am not able to write 
more. Put an advertisement in the Lon- 
don Standard saying it is all a mistake^ 
and I will still remain, ah, so gladly, 
' Your own as ever, 

' Mary.' 

There came a glow into Morelli's eyes 
as she read, and her lips tightened them- 
selves closer and closer on her teeth, giv- 
ing her a curious resemblance to an animal 
of the cat tribe just on the spring. 



PENHALA. 75 

When she got to the end, she drew in 
a quick breath, tore the sheet clean down 
the middle, slipped the first half into the 
blotting-book, the second half into the 
bosom of her dress, and turned away, with 
the air of one whose mind is thoroughly 
made up and has no intention of turning 
back. 

She passed on from the writing-table to 
a handsome small square box on a side 
shelf, beautifully inlaid with many various 
woods. She opened it and read on the lid 
inside — ' La Naissance de Necromancie.' 
To be sure ! She had heard of John 
Smith's talent for table magic. 

' From May,' was written on the wood, 
up in one corner of the lid. Morelli smiled 
sourly over the little token of affection. 
She — this girl with the temperament of a 
fish — could spend her guineas lavishly 



76 PENHALA. 

enough to gratify the merest whiin of her 
husband, but for a lover she could yield 
up nothing — not even the poorest shred of 
pride. 

As the time for John's arrival drew near 
she took up her post in the bay window, 
and watched for him. She saw him be- 
fore he saw her, and in that first glimpse 
of his face she knew the slight he had put 
on her love was thoroughly avenged. 
Afterwards, in her presence, he did not 
allow his mental anguish to show so 
plainly. 

' Mr. Burlington has gone on to Birming- 
ham,' she told him, as she opened the door 
to meet him. ' I remained here to see you. 
You see it was necessary he should be 
there early in the morning, on business, 
and — he thought you w^ould get more 
satisfaction out of an interview with me. 



PENHALA. 77 

I was the last member of the company who 
saw your wife, Mr. Smith.' 

John turned from looking round the 
room — her very own room, impregnated 
with her presence, the little bowl of roses, 
of the kind she loved best, still on the 
piano — he had brought them home to her 
on Friday afternoon — her work-basket open 
on the small table near her chair, the cur- 
tains at the window draped as no hands 
but hers ever draped them, the very atmo- 
sphere burdened with the faint odour of 
dry lavender which always clung about 
her clothino^ — he turned from lookino; 
round the room, as if he had expected her 
to spring from some corner out upon him, 
and met Morelli's inquisitive glance. 

' She has not returned yet then ?' he 
asked. 

' San eta Maria !' said Morelli, under 



78 PENHALA. 

her breath ; ' she has not returned ; no.' 

' But she will,' he observed, positively. 
^ I know nothing yet, you know, Madame; 
nothing beyond the bare fact that she 
has been missing since mid-day yesterday; 
but nothing you may have to tell me will 
make any difference on that point — there 
is some ghastly error somewhere, but she 
will find it out and come back, sooner or 
later.' 

Morelli's colour faded a little, but she 
did not lose her self-possession ; and in 
the present state of his mind he was not 
likely to notice so small a thing as her 
touch of pallor. 

' At all events hope is always left to us,' 
she answered him, ' we will hope you are 
right.' 

He looked at her, and she met his look 
fully ; and meeting that look, he waved a 



PENH ALA. 79 

hand as if lie would wave away the hn- 
pression she sought to convey. He still 
stood where he had paused upon entering 
the room, with a closed hand resting on 
the centre table, and his face, full o a 
grievous perplexity, turned towards the 
window. 

' Tell me all about it, please. Xo hints 
or suppositions, but just the facts, as short 
and simply as you can.' 

And she told him — how she and his 
wife had started for a drive, how his wife 
had not wanted to go at first, but had 
allowed herself to be persuaded into it, 
^ upon condition that they drove out of the 
town by one particular road,' how, driving 
along this particular road, they had over- 
taken a gentleman who had raised his hat, 
how his wife had requested to be set down, 
and had gone back to speak to the gentle- 



80 PENHALA. 

man, how she had returned at the end of 
five minutes and excused herself from con- 
tinuing the drive, on the plea of having 
met a very old friend whom she had not 
seen for some time, how Madame had not 
thought it anything extraordinary, know- 
ing Mrs. Smith's old home was near at 
hand, in York, how she had gone on for 
her drive, not reaching home till nearly 
seven, and how she had been startled 
shortly afterwards by the arrival of the 
call-boy, with the news that Miss Fenti- 



more was missing. 



And John listened without interrupting, 
with his troubled glance fixed always out 
of window on the house across the street, 
and his close-shut hand leaning a little 
more heavily on the table. He moved his 
eyes to her face Avhen she had finished, 
but he said nothing, and she, feeling the 



PENHALA. 81 

disturbing influence of that silent regard^ 
began to speak again to cover ber touch of 
nervousness. 

' Mrs. Burlington asked me what the 
man was like, but he was behind the car- 
riage, you see, and I did not like — ' 

' It does not matter,' said John, abruptly; 
' not in the least. It makes no sort of 
difference what he was like, Madame. My 
2)oor girl hasn't gone oft" and left me be- 
cause the man she met yesterday morning 
was handsome, or fascinating, or rich, or 
anything else — the man himself had 
nothing to do with it — Fd as soon believe 
it of an angel from heaven as of Mary. 
There is a ghastly error somewhere, and 
my poor girl is the victim of it.' 

To this Madame could say nothing. 
She lingered some little time, not because 
she had anything more to say, but because 

VOL. II. G 



82 PENHALA. 

she felt an invincible repugnance to leav- 
ino; him as lono^ as he remained in Don- 
caster. But when she found he did not 
mean to return to Newcastle that night — 
that in fact he did not mean to return to 
Burlington's company at all, unless he first 
found his wife, she was obliged to yield 
and take herself off. Of course she at- 
tempted to persuade him out of this mad 
sacrifice of his position, but she saw almost 
at once that her persuasions were only so 
much waste of breath. 

' Xo,' he said, quietly, ' nothing would 
induce him to return to the company, un- 
less they returned together. His presence 
there might keep her away, and that was 
a possibility he could not face for a 
moment.' 

So she went away and left him there, 
with his closed hand pressed tight down 



PENHALA. 83 

on the table. He did not thank her for 
waiting to give him the interview ; he did 
not oifer to shake hands with her ; and as 
she passed out of the room, and left him 
standing as still as death, with his eyes 
bent on the gaudy pattern of the table- 
cloth under his hand, the thought did flash 
into her mind for a moment that perhaps, 
after all, her vengeance had been a little 
heavy-handed ; that perhaps some day she 
might stand in need of a little mercy herself; 
and that in that day her cruelty to these 
people might rise up against her, and stand 
as a barrier between her and the mercy she 
needed. 

But, if the thought came to her, she did 
not allow it to influence her actions. And 
when all was said and done, she argued, 
was not the separation between these two 
foolish young people as much Mary Fen- 

g2 



84 PENH ALA. 

timore's own doing as hers? And in 
answering the question she tried not to 
remember that Mary, in making her share 
of the arrangements, had left one door of 
escape open, a door which she, Morelli, had 
been very careful to shut securely and 
double lock, before she went on her way 
and abandoned these two people to their 
fate. 

John, left standing there with the scent 
of Mary's roses in his nostrils, with the 
signs of her recent presence all about him, 
could not, even yet, fully realise the extent 
of the disaster awaiting him ; or, to be 
more exact, he was still struggling against 
the realisation, refusing to admit for a 
moment the justice of the suggestions 
-which, against his will, would continually 
present themselves to his understanding 
for argument and decision. 



PEXHALA. 85 

Against one hypothesis, however, his 
mind stood firm — let the explanation of 
this unhappy mystery be what it might, 
there was no hint nor possibility of blame 
for Mary in it ; this point was as clearly 
above all doubt as his own identity. 

"What her disappearance might really 
mean he had not as yet set himself to ask, 
because he was trying to make himself 
believe that it was only a waste of trouble. 
She would return, or send to him some 
ex2)lanation, in the course of the next few 
hours ; why should he weary his brain 
in making guess explanations for him- 
self? And yet his brain was already 
wearied past further effort with the futile 
occupation. 

There was one way of accounting for 
the present extraordinary state of affairs, 
which never occurred to him without a 



86 PENH ALA. 

sudden awful sinking at his heart — what 
if she had been taken ill, or had met with 
some fearful accident? Well, he was a 
silly fool to plague himself with such a 
possibility as that. Was Mr. Burlington's 
beautiful, popular little 'prima donna the 
sort of person who could be run over by 
a passing van, or trip and sprain her 
ankle, without any notice of the misfor- 
tune reaching her people ? No, the ab- 
sence must be voluntary on her part, that 
seemed certain. And yet, would she 
absent herself voluntarily without giving 
Burlington notice of her intention — she 
who was so scrupulously exact in all 
matters of business ? No, he felt sure 
she would not. Well, then, her absence 
was involuntary, and in that case why had 
not this old friend, for the pleasure of 
whose society she had given up the drive 



PENH ALA. 87 

with Morelli, why had lie not communi- 
cated with Burlington ? 

Not weary his brain with making 
guesses, and asking unanswerable ques- 
tions ? His brain was mazed and sore 
with the never-ceasing strain of conjec- 
ture, and his heart was sore too, sore with 
an anguish which could not endure that the 
hurt should be touched, or even uncovered 
to view. 

And so, when the landlady came in 
presently with a covered dish on a tray, 
and asked him to excuse the liberty she 
had taken in cutting him some dinner 
from her own joint, he was careful not to 
let her see what a serious view he took of 
his wife's absence. He even thanked her 
for her kind thought, and made some 
pretence of eating. But the food threat- 
ened to choke him when she began, with 



88 PENHALA. 

the curious relisli peculiar to people of 
her class, to give him her impression of 
affairs. 

' Had he given a thought to the river ? 
Mayhap Mrs. Smith had taken it into her 
head to stroll that way by herself, and the 
banks were anything but safe in parts. 
Or there was Sloman's pool, out on the 
Wakefield road — a nasty place in the twi- 
light, quite close to the road, and the 
fence in anything but a satisfactory 
condition.' 

John pushed his chair away from the 
table with a muffled groan, and she saw 
too late that she had stopped his eating, 
and went away full of regrets and 
apologies. 

In all his life had John ever lived such 
a long afternoon as that? Now pacing 
the room a few turns ; now stopping in the 



PENH ALA. 89 

window for a few minutes, with his lieart 
in liis throat every time a fresh skirt flut- 
tered into view round the corner at the 
end of the street ; now turning his back on 
the daylight to fight down the sensation 
of strangulation that climbed up, inch by 
inch, from his heart to the root of his 
tongue ; now standing for long spells, mute 
and motionless, his thoughts thrown back- 
ward into the heaven-like peace and haj^pi- 
ness of those past months, and flying back 
like a liberated spring, to the festering 
misery of the present, as often as some 
sound in the house below recalled him to 
his immediate surroundings. 

But the afternoon passed at last, and 
the darkness came. He would not ring 
for lights — that woman might begin again 
her maddening suggestions, and he liked 
the darkness best. Like a dumb brute 



90 PENHALA. 

that is hurt unto death, he shrank instinc- 
tively from the sight of his fellow- crea- 
tures ; as if his hurt were a shame. A 
glimmer of light came in through the win- 
dow from a street lamp some little way 
down, quite enough to enable him to steer 
clear of the furniture in his movements 
about the room ; that was all he wanted, he 
could not have kept still to save his life. 

In this dim light he could still see the 
tiny bowl of roses on the piano top, the 
open work-basket on the little table near 
the fireplace, the litter on the writing-table 
in the window ; and now that he was in 
the dark, as he passed in 'his pacings these 
little possessions of Mary's, he took to 
touching them, with a lingering tender 
pressure of his finger-tips, as if praying of 
the inanimate things some answering sign 
or token. 



PENHALA. 91 

And all these hours, curiously enough 
— and yet perhaps it was not so curious in 
his state of mental congestion — he had 
never thought of taking a single definite 
step for the discovery of Mary's where- 
abouts. The thought came to him at last, 
filtering dully through the fog of his 
misery, that perhaps he ought to do some- 
thing. What did people do when folks 
went missing ? 

There was the police ! That would mean 
publicity, and publicity he would have 
avoided. And yet what else could he do ? 

Now that the thought had at last pre- 
sented itself to him, he began to reproach 
himself for not having set about it before. 

In his present state of mental and phy- 
sical exhaustion to think coherently at all 
was very difficult to him. What was it he 
would have to do first ? Write out a de- 



92 PENHALA. 

scription of her personal appearance for 
the authorities to have printed ? Yes, 
they could not start a search for a person 
until they knew what it was they were to 
search for. 

He would want a light. He had. matches 
in his pocket, and there were candles in 
the piano brackets. He would not have 
the lamp — if that woman knew what he 
was doing, she would form her own conclu- 
sions, would think he was acting on those 
ghastly suggestions of hers. 

He fetched the blotter and the pen and 
ink from the writing-table, and set them 
on the centre table, at that side nearest 
the piano ; then he lit the candles, and with 
some feeling that there was a touch of 
comfort in their immediate neighbourhood, 
he set the bowl of roses down next to the 
blotter, and pulled up a chair and turned 



PENH ALA. 93 

back the cover, and then — kind God of 
heaven, she had left some word behind 
her after all ! 

Just in that first moment he did not 
wait to read it, he caught the half sheet 
of paper up to his cold, trembling lips, and 
showered his kisses of passionate gratitude 
down on her dear writing. Thank God, 
oh, thank God, she, at least, had not left 
him to face this misery without some touch 
of hope ! 

Reverently, as a devote might handle 
some relic of a martyred saint — for had 
this woman not been his saint, his good 
angel, his saviour ? — he straightened out 
the half sheet of paper and bent his glance 
upon it. But no exclamation came from 
him as he read, neither of joy, relief, as- 
tonishment, despair, nor any other emotion 
w^hatever. And when he reached the foot 



94 PENHALA. 

of the page, and reversing the paper, found 
nothing on the other side, and lifted his 
face again, there was nothing on it but a 
blank, wondering stare of non-compre- 
hension. 

He was tired — that was it — these long 
hours of mental torment had fagged his 
brain, so that it was no longer capable of 
receiving ideas and passing them on to 
his understanding. Pressing his throb- 
bing temples close between his two palms, 
he turned his glance again to the paper, 
and forced his failing energies to the com- 
prehension of its contents. 

This time, before he reached the foot of 
the page, he rose up with a muffled cry, and 
stopping the cry half way through, stood 
holding his breath, as one who suddenly 
faces a deadly peril. Then his breath 
came again with a quiver and a rush that 



PENHALA. 95 

shook him, so that he steadied himself 
against the edge of the table. 

' Xo,' he panted, in the smallest of whis- 
pers, as if fearful of being overheard, ' not 
that! It is not that! I say It Is Xot !' 
Emphatic to ferocity the words were, for 
all their quietness. ' And yon were on 
the verge of thinking it — you coward ! you 
cur ! you brute beast ! This angel in 
woman's form comes down from heaven, 
and soils the pure hem of her garment in 
stpoping to pick you out of your pit of 
defilement, and sets you up at her side in 
the company of honest men, and restores 
to you some touch of your long-lost man- 
hood, and this is your gratitude in return, 
that, at the first hint of something in her 
conduct not quite clear to you, you pounce 
upon this foul doubt of her j)urity, as a 
vulture pounces on its filthy carrion. You 



96 PENHALA. 

poor, mean cur ! You ingrate ! Oh, the 
sacrilege of it !' 

It was all dark to him ; dark and terrible. 
But at least that one explanation he would 
never admit. 

Might there not be something he had 
missed, some fine shade of meaning in the 
few poor little sentences which would put 
some other interpretation on them. 

How hard he tried to twist them round, 
to make them say anything but what they 
said. 

' I have loved you, John — you cannot 
doubt it — and yet, now, I sometimes ask 
myself if I have ever before known the 
fullest depths of my own heart, that 
utterly selfless love, which could count 
the sacrifice of everything which makes 
life pleasant as nothing, when the benefit 
of its object is the purpose in view.' 



PEXHALA. 97 

What could tliat mean ? Hoic could he 
make it mean anything but what it said ? 

' I ouo;ht to have tokl vou weeks ao;o, 
but was prevented by a foolish sentiment ^ 
or one which, at least, seems foolish now^ 
when we are separated, most likely for 
ever.' 

Was there any second meaning possible 
to that ? 

The love that had been between them 
had now dwindled to a mere ' foolish 
sentiment !' 

And this dwindling had begun ' weeks 
ago !' And all those weeks she had lain 
in his arms, and answered his looks with 
others as warm, as loving as his own. 
And yet she had been even then ' finding 
the fullest depths of her own heart:' re- 
conciling herself to ' the sacrifice of 
everything that made life pleasant;' and 

VOL. II. H 



^8 PENHALA. 

' counting it as nothing for the benefit of 
this new love !' 

Would reason admit of any hidden 
interpretation to such an 'outspoken de- 
claration. 

Well, then, he Avas lost indeed ! 

But he did not permit himself to blame 
her. 

In her impulsive generosity, in her 
burning desire to rescue him, she had under- 
taken to bear a burden beyond her strength. 
She did not say so, but that was because 
her heart was full of mercy. She would 
not let him think that he was in any de- 
gree to blame for this separation. The 
terror of his past had overshadowed their 
love as he had prophesied it would. 

And he was alone a2:ain. And this 
loneliness was a thousand thousand-fold 
worse than the loneliness she had rescued 



PENH ALA. 99 

him from. She had better have left him 
as she found him. That was the only 
thought of censure he allowed himself. 
After such a glimpse of paradise to be 
cast back, head foremost, into the old 
purgatory ! 

That night a strange thing happened in 
that house. The two rooms that the 
Smiths had occupied were burnt out, 
gutted completely, so that, of all the fur- 
niture and clothing and costly trifles of 
which the rooms had been full, nothing 
but ashes remained. 

And the curious part of it was that the 
Are had so completely destroyed those 
two rooms and their contents, before it 
began to spread to the other parts of the 
house. 

It had evidently started at the bedstead 

h2 



100 PENHALA. 

in the hack room, because it was just over 
the spot where it stood that the flame& 
first made their way through the timbers 
of the ceiling to the roof, and alarmed the 
neighbourhood. When the official inves- 
tigation elicited this fact, the mistress 
of the house looked more troubled than 
ever. 

She had taken the lamp in to Mr. Smith 
a little after nine o'clock, although he had 
not rung for it, because she was getting 
anxious and wanted an excuse to go into 
the room. And Mr. Smith, looking well- 
nigh distraught with trouble, had rather 
resented the intrusion, she thought. But 
he had suddenly remembered that her bill 
was still unpaid, and had settled up with 
her, and told her that he should be off in 
the morning before she was up, and dis- 
missed her with the intimation that he 



PENHALA. 101 

should want nothing more that night. 

When she spoke about a bed-room 
candle he had said he would carry the 
lamp through into the other room to un- 
dress by. And now she was wondering 
— there was a fluffy wool mat just inside 
the doors of communication — supposing 
him worn out with the fatigue and grief — 
carrying that heavy lamp from one room 
to the other — what more probable than a 
false step over the mat, and a forward 
plunge, lamp, man and all into the inflam- 
mable embrace of the bed-clothing ! 

But she was by nature of a cautious 
disposition, and she was careful to say noth- 
ing of this suspicion of hers to anybody 
in Doncaster. Things were bad enough 
without adding to the horror. To one 
person she did communicate her impres- 
sion — Madame Morelli — and Morelli, in 



102 PENHALiV. 

turn, communicated the news to Mary,- 
only, in passing it on, she stated as a posi- 
tive fact what the landlady had only sug- 
gested as a probability. And Mary 
bought herself a black dress, and, struck 
to the earth by the double blow, said 
to herself that she should never smile 
again. 



103 



CHAPTER YIIL 

A BLANK DRAW ON TREGARRON HEAD. 

What Mary went through when she re- 
ceived the letter from Madame Morelli 
announcing John's death, and recounting 
its tragic circumstances, is not an experi- 
ence easy to describe. From her own 
point of view her life seemed to have come 
to a sudden end, to have stopped dead, 
with a shock and jar which stunned her 
faculties, and left her, physically and 
mentally, in a state of utter prostration. 
She lay for days in a kind of stupor, 



104 PENHALA. 

scarcely unclosing her lips either to speak 
or to eat, scarcely moving, scarcely even 
thinking. Life was henceforth a blank to 
her, she would have welcomed death with 
avidity. 

When she did think with any clearness, 
her thoughts all took the form of acute 
self-reproach. She blamed herself bitter- 
ly for the ready credence she had given 
to the story of John's iniquity. 

She had been able to believe this evil 
thins; of the livino;, but she could not 
believe it of the dead. AVithout the slight- 
est foundation for this change of belief, it 
was yet perfect and complete. John had 
not wronged her in this cruel fashion — 
looking back she was amazed to find that 
she had really believed him guilty of the 
base deceit — how could she ever have 
thought so meanly of him ? 



PEXHALA. 105 

The one circumstance which had led 
Morelli to doubt the identity of the John 
Smith on the marriage certificate with the 
John Smith in Mr. Burlington's company, 
had no influence with Mary ; for she 
argued that, since he would not in any 
case have given a true account of himself, 
he would be as likely to describe himself 
as a boiler-maker as anything else. In 
fact, she had absolutely no reason what- 
ever for her restored faith in John's truth, 
beyond the feeling at her heart, which 
assured her that he had not done her this 
foul wrong. 

Woman's reasonless reasoning. 

With this self-reproach eating into her 
heart night and day, she made very slow 
headway towards convalescence ; and yet 
she did progress, slowly but surely, until 
there came a day when she was able to 



106 PENHALA. 

leave the privacy of her room and face the 
daylight again. 

By this time she had thoroughly made 
up her mind on one or two points. 

She should never return to the stage. 
Her own tiny income would at least keep 
her from starvation, and when the neces- 
sity arose she would supplement it by 
efforts in some other direction. The old 
life which, with all its drawbacks, was 
hallowed to her by the memory of those 
few months of a so nearly perfect happi- 
ness, she would never take up again, 
never even approach again. Her profes- 
sional experiences and all appertaining to 
them, she cast behind her as completely 
and regardlessly as a serpent drops its 
slough. If it pleased God to spare her 
and her little one, they would start a new 
life together. Meantime, thanks to her 



PENHALA. 107 

past thrift, there was no need for haste in 
deciding on this new method of earning a 
livelihood. 

Looking forward into her immediate 
future, realising its perils and terrors — 
more terrible even than usual because of 
her loneliness — a strange fancy took pos- 
session of her. She would like to pass 
that time of fear and sufferino^ in John's 
birth-place ; she would hke his child to be 
born there. She did not experience much 
difficulty in finding out all she wanted to 
know of his past now, when she had no 
longer his fear of the consequences to 
reckon with. She knew the tragedy that 
had clouded his youth had occurred in 
Cornwall, and, within a little, she knew 
the date of its occurrence. With this out- 
line to go upon she soon found out all she 
wanted to know. 



108 PENHALA. 

So it was John Penhala she had mar- 
ried ! the great-grandson of that Joshua 
Penhala whose inventions had revolution- 
ised the mining industry in Cornwall, 
eighty or ninety years ago. 

She remembered the story well enough. 
' The Carn Ruth Murder.' the pajDers had 
called it. She remembered, with a shud- 
der, how^ universal was the belief in John 
Penhala's guilt. And yet he had sworn 
that he was innocent, and she believed 
him; with all her heart and soul she 
believed him. 

In discovering her husband's real iden- 
tity she had discovered something else — 
that there was no longer room for the 
least doubt on the subject of that previous 
marriage. At the time that ' John Smith, 
boiler-maker,' was married, John Penhala 
was a mere youth, living under his father's 



PENHALA. 109 

roof. How the mistake had arisen would 
never be explained now, and since the 
main point — that it was a mistake — was 
established, she was content to let the 
other question rest. 

It seemed as if the world had conspired 
to accuse him falsely. 

She recalled what he had told her at 
Edinburgh, of a man who had sworn to 
be revenged on him for the wrong he had 
done Hagar Polwhele; a man who had 
gone the length of giving evidence, under 
oath, that he had been an eye-witness to 
the girl's murder. 

And she recalled her own remark : ' If 
I could but see him !' 

Well, now, there was no longer any- 
thing to prevent her seeing him. All the 
false swearing in the world could not harm 
John now. 



110 PENHALA. 

She went to the British Museum and 
read up the Carn Ruth tragedy carefully, 
found out the name of the man who had 
o^iven the evidence ao;ainst John Penhala 
at the coroner's inquest, and made her 
plans for a journey into Cornwall. 

Who could tell what might happen if 
she could place herself face to face with 
this false witness ? 

Perhaps this idea, ultimately, had as 
much to do with her visit to Carn Ruth 
as the other. 

The idea that, by her efforts, his name 
might be cleared of this undeserved dis- 
honour, that thus she might make some 
sort of compensation to his memory, if not 
to himself, for her past injustice, brought 
a subtle touch of comfort with it. Like 
all women, she reasoned from her heart 
rather than her head, and if her premiss 



PENHALA, 111 

was unsound the deduction was unassail- 
able. — It would be an inexpressible com- 
fort to her to know she had been the 
means of clearing the dead man's name, 
from the stigma under which it had lain 
so long. 

The summer was fast mellowing into 
autumn, faster perhaps along the northern 
coast of Cornwall than in more sheltered 
parts, for the reason that the restless 
winds blew more continuously across the 
exposed uplands of the Atlantic sea-board 
than elsewhere in England, and ruthlessly 
stripped the leaves from the trees as soon 
as the leaves grew dry and brittle. In 
more sheltered places the foliage might 
hang for weeks after it had changed 
colour, making the trees more beautiful 
in their decay than they had ever been in 



1.12 PENHALA. 

their prime, and, tliinning off little by 
little, give the eye time to grow recon- 
ciled to the change during the process of 
accomplishment. 

But there was none of this graceful 
trifling with the ravages of time among 
the trees on the north Cornish coast. So 
soon as the leaf-stems grew shrivelled and 
brittle from the annual failure in the sap 
supply, it was only a question of a windy 
day, and the dream of summer was over 
and done with. For, look you, when 
Cornish winds blow there is no indecision 
about them, and the leaf that would hold 
to its parent stem in the teeth of a strong 
westerly hurricane, blowing inland straight 
from the Atlantic, needs all the moist elas- 
ticity and vigour of youth to enable it to 
bend to the blast, and spring back uninjured 
when the tempest has passed. 



PENH ALA. lis 

That is why the pine plantations crop 
np so constantly on the Cornish heights 
and uplands; no other trees will stand 
against the wind. And the 2)ine conquers 
by its cunning when the strength of other 
trees is of no avail. Xotice how innocent 
of all resistance seem the outermost trees 
of a pine plantation, when the wind comes 
roaring in from the sea to the attack ; see 
how their heads bend, and their boughs 
pendulate, and their numberless needles 
shudder and quiver, in a very agony of 
fright and supplication, as one might 
easily imagine. Those countless spikelets 
of green would not presume to attempt to 
stop the advance of such a royal, roaring 
bully of a breeze as this, not they ! See 
how the o:ale swishes its brao:o:art wav in 
among them, with the air of a conqueror, 
and mark what follows — Those unresisting 

VOL. ir. I 



114 PENHALA. 

needles let the wind in — yes ; and having 
got him in they filter him. strain him 
through a sieve so fine that they drain 
all his strength away from him, and when 
he emerges on the other side of the dark 
green belt he has to confess that, if he has 
been ' let in,' he is also ' done for.' Those 
myriads of yielding needles have strangled 
him. Gulliver and the pigmies over again 
Avith a vengeance. 

And the fun of it was, that this particu- 
lar fool of a Gulliver never appeared to 
learn any better ; he had been at this 
game with the pine patch on the summit 
of Tregarron Head any time this last fifty 
years, always finding himself beaten be- 
fore he got through the clump to the 
cottage on the other side, yet never tired 
of making the attempt. 

There was a lady fighting her way up 



PENHALA. 115 

the green slope to the cottage now, with 
the wind full in her teeth; a lady in 
mourning heavy enough for a widow, but 
without the orthodox insignia of that 
state. 

Old Mrs. Edyvean stood at the cottage 
door watching her. Just there the air was 
as still as an inland summer afternoon. 
But for an occasional hiss among the very 
topmost of the pine boughs behind her, 
she would have known nothing of the 
gale thundering in from the ocean — for 
the wind had risen suddenly, within the 
last hour or two, and the surges had not 
yet begun the accompaniment of their deep 
diapason. 

Mrs. Edyvean, from the shelter of her 
doorway, watched the lady's stubborn 
efforts to mount the hill, with a touch of 
apathetic wonder. Who was she, and 

i2 



116 PENH ALA. 

what in the world did she want out to 
Tregarron Head on such a day as this ? 

If anyone had suggested to Mrs. Edy- 
vean that the stranger was putting herself 
to all this toil and trouble in the hope of 
fi-ainino' a few minutes' conversation with 
her, the honest woman would have scouted 
the idea as preposterous. Why, even her 
most intimate associates — people she had 
gone to school with in her far-oiF child- 
hood — had left off troubling to come near 
her for more than these three years past, 
why should this stranger be anxious to 
seek her out ? Such a thought never 
entered her head for a moment. 

Still she watched the lady curiously as 
she drew near, remarking to herself that 
she did not look in a fit condition to be 
toiling up that hill, all by herself, in the 
face of such a bluster as that. 



PENH ALA. 117 

The pathway across the short close turf 
— worn for the most jjart by Mrs. Edy- 
yean's own footsteps, for the cottaoe was 
out of the road from everywhere — led 
straight up to the door ; and the lady 
paused, as she got within comfortable 
speaking distance, and leaned on her um- 
brella, panting a little. 

' What a wind I' she said, with a smile 
which seemed to ask for a friendly re- 
sponse ; and when she smiled Mrs. Edy- 
vean discovered that she was very pretty, 
and quite young ; in spite of the shar- 
pened outline of her cheek, and the 
shadowy hollows under her eyes. ' If I 
had known how it blew up here. I don't 
think I should have ventured. But your 
cottage looks so romantic, perched up 
here, that I have been longing to get up 



118 PENH ALA. 

to you ever since I came to Carn Rutli, a 
week ago.' 

' 1 think it avouIcI have clone you no 
great harm if you had waited a while 
longer,' said Mrs. Edyvean ; and, though 
the words sounded blunt, there was a soft- 
ening in her manner as she spoke them, 
which took away considerably from their 
harshness. 

' Perhaps not,' agreed the lady, with 
another of her pretty wistful smiles. ' But 
I'm always impatient when I want a thing ; 
and, of all little sins, I think impatience 
brings most unhappiness to the sinner. 
JSTot that that holds true with me to-day. 
I'm not in the least unhappy to have come 
up here — now that I'm out of the wind — 
the air is simply splendid !' she opened her 
delicate nostrils and drew it in raptur- 



PEXHALA. 119 

ously, ' and tlie view is worth twice the 
climb. And that is Penhala's house, I 
suppose, on the opposite headland — you 
can't see it so well from down below. 
And how picturesque the tiny town looks 
from here, with its high-street all of a twist 
and a turn — like a naughty child when it 
is having its hair combed — and its houses 
all standing corners-wise to each other — as 
if they were sulking, and had turned their 
shoulders on one another.' 

^ Mrs. Edyvean smiled. Things had 
never struck her that way, but she could 
see the gist of the simile when another 
jDointed it out. 

' If you only came to see the view,' she 
said, ' and hain't going on further, you'd 
mebbe as soon look sitting as standing;' 
and without further ceremony she dragged 



120 PEXHALA. 

s> large wooden arm-cliair through the door, 
aud signed to the pale-faced little lady to 
seat herself therein. 

She did not actually say ' Thank you !' 
but she sank down with a great sigh of 
relief, and looked up at the grim old 
country- woman with eyes that said as 
plainly as tongue could have said it, ' I do 
think you are the kindest woman in the 
world !' And Mrs. Edyvean liked it ever 
so much better than the spoken thanks. 

' How good it is to sit when you're tired,' 
said the little lady, gently. ' It helps you 
to the full understanding of that beautiful 
promise, " I will give you rest." ' 

' Ay,' said the Cornishwoman, ' we never 
know how good a thing is till we need it 
— badly.' 

The stranger assented silently, and lean- 
ing her chin in the hollow of her hand, 



PENH ALA. 121 

fell to studying the scene — the vivid blue 
of the inlet at her feet, the little gathering 
of houses at the bend of the tiny bay, the 
beautiful house on the opposite headland, 
gleaming white under the fast westering 
sun from among its dense plantations, the 
succession of silvery cascades that leapt 
down the face of the cliff, just at the point 
where the pines approached most closely 
to the edge, and the pretty little landing- 
stage underneath it, a short distance away 
to. the right. 

The view appeared to have a great effect 
upon Mrs. Edyvean's visitor; she grew 
absorbed in it : her pretty eyes — eyes with 
a look of patience in them which told its 
own story of sorrow — wandered from point 
to point of the landscape — from the bold 
headland jutting out into the sea which 
faced her, to the town lying at the head of 



122 PENHALA. 

the bay, and tlien gradually back to the 
headland again — as if she were bent on 
imprinting every detail of the picture on 
her memory. 

Mrs. Edyvean in turn grew absorbed in 
her visitor ; and when she spoke presently, 
her words had no suggestion of abruptness. 
The silence had been so complete — but for 
that occasional hiss overhead among the 
pines — that neither of them were conscious 
that the conversational pause had been 
longer than usual when she said, 

' And you look as if you had needed it 
badly.' 

• I have,' assented the lady, ' and it 
seems to me I shall perhaps find it — 
here.' 

'Here?' 

The sharpness of the tone roused her 
from her dreamy abstraction. She brought 



PENH ALA. 123 

her gaze back reluctantly from the scenery 
to the weather-beaten face watchmg her 
from the open doorway. 

' Why not ?' she asked, pleasantly. 
' It seems to me that this cottage of yours 
is a veritable haven of rest. Who could 
imagine that a dozen or two of pines 
would make such a perfect screen against 
the hurricane?' 

The skilful little twist served its purpose 
of lightening the conversation. 

' I get it bad enough sometimes, when 
the wind is north with a touch of east in 
it. I've been near to being starved out 
once or twice, I can tell ee.' The ver- 
nacular began to assert itself as soon as 
she forgot herself in the interest of her 
subject. ' The trees keep the blaw off the 
house, let it blaw from the west as blaw it 
may. But when it blaws for a fortnight on 



1 24 PENHALA. 

end as happens sometimes in winter time, 
and I run short of food, the pines bain't 
much good then. I've seen it blaw here so 
that no man alive could keep foothold along 
the laast quarter mile you'vejust come, and 
waun time I mind, thengs got so close weth 
me that I had to tie claws round my knees 
and roll myself ovver and ovver down- 
hill, with garden-fark in my hand to stop 
myself when I got whizzy. It warn't just 
what you'd caall a pleasant experience, 
but it was that or starvation, and you'll do 
most thengs at bidding of hunger, I tell 
ee.' 

'And have you been living this lonely 
life very long ?' asked the lady. 

'Aw, my dear, it do seem long to me. 
It's a matter of fowr years or more sen I 
saw my boy.' 

' Then you must be the mother of the 



PENHALA. 125 

Morris Edyvean my landlady was telling 
me about this morning. It seems a little 
hard — his leaving you so long alone.' 

Mrs. Edyvean's eyes flashed. 

' My son's doings is a sore subject be- 
tween me and foak down to Carn Ruth,' 
she said. ' Seemed as if they'd been 
putting ee up to come and scandalise un 
to me, an' that's what I waan't submit to 
from anybody.' 

' But indeed there has been nothing of 
the sort,' the stranger assured her, earn- 
estly. ' It was only by chance that I 
heard your name this morning. I asked 
who Hved up here, and an old fisherman, 
told me ; but he told me nothing but your 
name, I assure you.' 

' And mebbe when you heard the naame 
you hadn't much need of further inform- 
ation ?' observed Mrs. Edyvean, with her 



126 PENHALA. 

keen dark eyes on the other's face. ' My 
son went to no end of trubble, aw that ded 
he, to maake his naame public propperty, 
fowr or five years ago, when the inquest 
w^as held on poor Hagar Polwhele.' 

' Yes, I remembered the name at once.' 
The lady leant her face down on her 
hand as she made the admission, as if she 
felt self-conscious under Mrs. Edyvean's 
close regard. ' But I thought it might be a 
common name here.' 

' Xo, there hain't no Edyveans here but 
me and my son. Aw, sure enough he's the 
man w^ho's under an oath to hang young 
John Penhala, if so be as he ever puts a 
hand on him.' 

Again there fell a silence between them, 
but this time it w\as not because the 
stranger was absorbed in admiration of the 
scenery, for her eyes were still on the 



PENHALA. 127 

ground at her feet, and the supporting 
hand from under her cheek had been 
moved higher, and laid across her brow, so 
that nothino; of her face could be seen. 
Looking at that shielding hand, it struck 
Mrs. Edjvean that it was less steady than 
it might have been, and she said to herself 
that the little lady had overdone herself in 
traipsing uphill in face of that blow. 

' Put like that,' she said, breaking the 
silence in a lower voice than she had used 
before — a shocked voice, as it seemed to 
Mrs. Edyvean — ' j)^^^ ^^^^ that, it sounds 
terrible. It sounds as if you meant that he 
only wanted to hang young Penhala, as if 
he cared nothing at all for the strict justice 
of the case.' 

A very curious look flashed into Mrs. 
Edyvean's eyes as she heard. Had she 
really given expression to such a thought 



128 PENHALA. 

as that? Then the closer she kept her 
lips shut on this subject the better. For it 
is one thing to think discreditable things 
of your own offspring, and another to 
speak of them to every passer-by you 
meet. 

' You're ovver-quick at putting big mean- 
ings to little words,' she retorted. ' I had 
no such thought in my head, I do assure 
you. If it maks no difference to you, 
we'll lev my son out of taalk altogether. 
It do seem as ef my temper got clain off 
weth me whenever hes naame's as much 
as mentioned. Most like et's because I do 
knaw how foak speak of un waun to an- 
other. Mebbe you can tell me if et's true 
what people were saying last market-day, 
when I was down to Carn Ruth, about Mr. 
Penhala's return.' 

With the change of subject she had also 



PEXHALA. 129 

changed lier manner. There was barely 
a trace of the ' Garnish ' about the last-put 
question. She had evidently donned her 
best company manners again, and further 
confidences on the subject of her son's 
whereabouts were out of the question. 

'What are they saying about his re- 
turn ?' inquired the lady, lifting a startled 
face from her hand. ' I have heard 
nothing.' 

' Aw, most like tes only gossip, ma'am," 
she said, noting with a little surprise her 
visitor's interest in the new topic, and be- 
ginning to feel a vague curiosity stirring 
within her. 'When people will be always 
yapping, it stands to reason the stock of 
truth must run short sometimes, and then 
t€s that the lying begins.' 

' Still,' persisted the little lady, quietly, 
' I should very much like to know what 

VOL. II. K 



130 PENHALA. 

you did hear about Mr. Penliala's return? 
When I came here Mrs. Pohvhele told me 
he had never been near Cam Ruth since 
— since the jury brought in that verdict 
against his son ; and the general impres- 
sion seemed to be that he had left the 
place for good.' 

' So foaks thouo'ht. But theno^s is sure 
to be different now he's married another 
wife.' 

' Married ?' 

'Aw! tes surprising news that, surely! 
When a man's mourned lies first wife for 
a matter of fowrteen year, it do seem a bit 
laate in day to thenk about a second.' 

'A second?' echoed the little lady again, 
her wits all hopelessly at sixes and sevens 
in the greatness of her surprise. And 
then, catching the inquisitive looks of the 
older w^oman bent on her in open inquiry, 



PEXHALA. 131 

she clasped her hands impulsively and 
broke into rapid speech. 

' You are wondering what all this has to 
do with me — why I, a stranger, should take 
so much interest in Mr. Penhala's affairs ? 
But the fact is I am not a stranger — not in 
the sense you take it. My husband was 
related to the first Mrs. Penhala — through 
his mother. Smith, my name is — Mrs. 
John Smith. Of course I knew, from my 
husband, how faithful Mr. Penhala had 
been to the memory of his first wife, and 
that was what made me so astonished at 
what you said. Is it true, do you think?' 

' That Penhala's married again ? Aw 
yes, that part of the news es true enough, 
I reckon. They was married just before 
laast Christmas time. They do say Pen- 
hala married hoping to have a child of hes 
own to take hes plaace over the way theere, 

k2 



132 PENH ALA. 

after him. But it seems the new wife is 
terruble delicate ; so happen that hope will 
fall to the ground along with the others.' 

' But the other son — this unfortunate 
John ?' 

' Aw ! John ! Well, tes always been 
my opinion, and foaks es coming round to 
my way of thenking by degrees, that that 
lad ded pay lies debt to God Almighty 
most as soon as it fell due. My son was 
the only soul as knawed aught about the 
real doings of that awful night, and he 
stud to't that the laast theng he seed o' 
John Penhala, he was tearing like mad 
along t'ither bank of the river. Seems to 
me 'twas just God's handiwork, to send him 
over clefF after the powr little wench he'd 
cheated and ruined. Anyways, Penhala 
he's behaved as ef the lad were dead. He's 
got act of parliament, or some such theng^ 



PENH ALA. 133 

made out for him, so as he can leave all hes 
propperty just as whim taaks un.' 

Mrs. Edyvean stopped abruptly, checked 
by a curious little sound from her listener. 

' Oh, I cannot help it!' said Mrs. Smith, 
with a big dry sob ; ' it is all so sad, 
so heart-breaking. It is well indeed that 
the poor boy is dead and out of it all. 
There was no longer a resting-place for the 
sole of his foot in this hard-judging world !' 

Without any further pretence at conceal- 
ment, she dropped her face in her hands 
and cried softly ; and Mrs. Edyvean 
watched her with a touch of sympathy in 
her quick dark eyes. 

' Tes like your husband knew the lad. 
YouVe heard taalk of un. Aw, 'twas a 
grievous business all through, 'twas. He 
had a smile like a May morning for sparkle. 
Aw, 'twas a promising lad, sure. And now 



134 PENHALA. 

hes naame has passed out of the land for 
ever, and's father es setting all hes hopes on 
another son. 'Twas that I heard down to 
Cam Ruth, that they was coming hoam, so 
as new heir should be barn on th' estate.' 

Mrs. Smith heard, with her pretty^ 
patient, tear-dimmed eyes looking out 
sadly across the stretch of blue sea to the 
handsome house opposite, and her heart 
echoing the speaker's words — ' 'Twas a 
grievous business all through !' one that 
could never be the better for her meddling. 
And yet, if John were innocent, how cruel 
it was to let his name rest under this 
stigma. 

' There's waun as won't taake kindly to 
the new order of thengs, I'm thenking,' con- 
tinued Mrs. Edyvean, her tongue smooth 
and gUb enough now that she had got 
away from her son's doings. 'And that's 



PENHALA. 135 

Penliala's nephew, a lad the foak about 
here call Mr. Paul. Sence John Penhala's 
downfall, foak have thought he would come 
in for propperty, seeing he's the only 
relation left to Penhala at all. And I have 
heard it said as he gave hisself all the airs 
of the 3^oungmaaster, whiles when he's been 
down here in his holidays. This new wife, 
and the taalk of childern, must have takken 
curl out of hes feathers pretty well, I 
reckon. He's noan of your side of the 
house, ma'am, so ye'll no taake offence at 
my plain speaking. He's the son of poor 
Miss Penhala, w^ho ran away with a blood- 
thirsty, revolutionising Russian. No good 
at all he wasn't, according to all account. 
Why, foak ded saay, though for that matter 
they'll saay most anytheng when waunce 
they taake a set against a man — but I 
believe this was really in the paapers — that 



136 PEXHALA. 

he was Avauii of them pohtician criminals 
that maade a plan to blow up the King and 
Queen of Russia, and all their childern, in 
a railway train. It do sound foolish only 
to saay such thengs, but I reckon there 
was sometheng in it — leastways they cut 
off the man's head, and they wouldn't go 
that far ef he hadn't gone against the law 
somehow.' 

It was strange, Mrs. Edyvean thought 
to herself — after Mrs. Smith had thanked 
her for the beautiful rest, and taken her 
way down the green slope, out of the wind 
again — it was strange the whims and 
fancies of folks, how they would feel for 
the troubles of some people they had 
never seen in their lives, and how they 
did not care a brass button about another's. 
There was this little Mrs. Smith, for in- 
stance — she had cried over John Penhala's 



PENHALA. 137 

trouble as if it had been her own, and yet, 
when it came to the tale of the Russian's 
misfortunes, she had scarcely seemed to 
give a thought to the whole thing. The 
human heart was a thing made uj) of 
freaks and fancies, and was as full of pur- 
poseless starts and contrarieties as a young 
chick at roosting time — aw sure-ly ! 



138 



CHAPTER IX. 

A LOVE WHICH KNOWS NOT SACRIFICE. 

' My good soul,' said Dr. Wintlirop, in a 
tone which suggested that his patience was 
on the verge of giving way, ' don't I tell ' 
you that I will be responsible for all the 
harm that can result to Mrs. Smith.' 

Mrs.Tolwhele glanced across the width 
of her best bed-room to the big four-poster 
on the other side, in the shadowy depths 
of which one could just distinguish the 
outlines of a slender form, and a pair of 
small hands wandering restlessly about 



PENHALA. 139 

the quilt, searching for something they 
wouki never find. Pitifully helpless they 
looked as they groped, with unfailing regu- 
larity, first to one edge of the bed and 
then to the other, almost as if they were 
resigned to the fruitlessness of their quest, 
and Avere yet bound to continue it, as long 
as the poAver of movement was left to 
them. 

As Mrs. Polwhele looked at them now, 
their troubled helplessness went straight to 
her heart, and she began to cry. 

' 'Tisn't natural you should feel about 
this matter as I do, doctor,' she said. 
' You've not known the poor little lady for 
weeks as I have. It seems to me like a 
downright piece of treachery — nothing 
more nor less — to take advantage of the 
poor little soul's helplessness and friend- 
lessness, to do a thing that we know she 



140 PENHALA. 

wouldn't sanction if slie could be consulted 
in the matter.' 

' How do you know slie wouldn't sanc- 
tion it?' asked Dr. AVinthrop, sharply. 
' You don't know anything of the sort ! 
My opinion is that, if she knew the loan 
of her baby for a day or two might be the 
means of saving Mrs. Penhala's life, she 
w^ould lend it to us with the most perfect 
wilHngness.' 

Mrs. Polwhele stopped her crying to 
listen, and the doctor, seeing it, hastened 
to press home his advantage. 

' I can understand your feelings in the 
matter, and they do you great credit. 
You've got a notion in your head that we 
are going to take advantage of Mrs. Smith 
in some way, and you fancy that because 
she is not able to fight her own battles, 
you ought to fight them for her — my dear 



PENHALA. 141 

soul, it is all the greatest nonsense in the 
world ! There is no wicked scheme on foot 
to rob Mrs. Smith of her baby, or change 
the children, or anything of that sort. All 
I want is the loan, for a few days, of this 
week-old babe — and I'll guarantee that 
poor Mrs. Smith won't be in a condition to 
miss it till long after it has served my pur- 
pose. AYe simply want to hide the fact 
that her own babe was born dead from 
Mrs. Penhala till she is better able to bear 
it — to show her a baby, any baby, and let 
her think it is hers, and give her some- 
thing to live for. It can't hurt the child 
— a short drive in a close carriage on a 
warm day like this — it can't hurt the 
child's mother, because it will be back 
long before she'll ever miss it, and it can 
and may do a very great service to Mr. 
and Mrs. Penhala. Come now, act like 



142 PENH ALA. 

a sensible woman ! Wrap up the scrap of 
humanity in a warm shawl, put on your 
bonnet, and come up to the house with me 
straight away, and put the child yourself 
into the charge of the nurse up there. A 
real grand nurse she is, too — has nursed 
a duchess and half-a-dozen countesses in 
her time, so you need not be afraid that 
this young lady of yours won't be properly 
attended to.' 

She was not afraid of that, she said, she 
was afraid of only the one thing — doing 
harm to Mrs. Smith. And if the doctor 
was quite certain that the child would be 
allowed to come back to its mother as soon 
as she wanted it, she would make no more 
bones about the matter. 

^ A nice sort of man you're making Mr. 
Penhala oat to be,' returned the doctor, 
laughing — his good humour quite restored 



PENHALA. 143 

by this submission to bis wisbes. ' I sbould 
tbink be is one of tbe last men in tbe 
world likely to run away witb otber 
people's children, and stick to 'em, in 
spite of tbeir parent's wisbes to tbe 
contrary.' 

Mrs. Polwbele said nothing to that, only 
smiled a little at tbe doctor's nonsense, 
and signing to the young woman who was 
nursing tbe baby by tbe fire to follow her, 
turned and left tbe room. 

It was on tbe evening of that same day 
that Mrs. Penbala, rousing herself sudden- 
ly from a quietness which tbe nurses bad 
taken for sleep, asked them to send for 
her husband. 

They bad not far to go ; be bad only 
thrown himself down on a couch in tbe 
next room, to snatch a little rest after the 



144 PENHALA. 

strain of the last twenty -four hours of 
anxiety. 

His wife had seemed so much happier 
and quieter, since the child had been placed 
by her side, that he had allowed himself 
to hope that the worst was past, that the 
doctors stratagem was to succeed after 
all, that the love and joy of maternity 
would prove strong enough to win her 
back from the very jaws of death. And 
he thought so still more when he saw her 
lying there, looking at the babe with a 
kind of adoration in her wan face. 

She smiled up at him as he came, and 
put a weak hand out to him. And when 
he clasped it close in his, she drew his 
large, shapely fingers down, softly, to the 
tiny head on the pillow between them, and 
held them there. 

' You will love it always. Lance !' she 



PENHALA. 145 

whispered. ' Promise me you will love it 
with all your heart !' 

' My darling !' he murmured, as if in 
remonstrance at the needlessness of the 
request. 

' Ah, but I want you to promise in 
actual words,' she persisted, weakly. 'I am 
afraid that perhaps, if I die, there will be 
a little soreness in your heart against the 
poor, wee thing, and you will grudge it 
your love because it cost you me.' 

' But it is not going to cost me you,' he 
said, smiling very tenderly at her ; ' Ave 
are all going to have very happy times to- 
gether yet, you and I and — the youngster.' 

' Ellaline,' she put in, quickly; 'I want 
you to call her Ellaline. Yes, and I hope 
too, for those happy times, Lance ; but still 
I should be so much more contented if 
you would give me this promise.' 

VOL. II. L 



]46 PENH ALA. 

' My clearest,' he said then, seeing how 
her thoughts dwelt on it, and knowing how 
all important it was that her mind should 
be completely at rest, ' I will give you any 
promise you ask of me.' 

The hot, feeble fingers gripped them- 
selves a trifle closer round his, and laid 
them on the babe's downy little cranium. 

' To love and cherish her always, as the 
very apple of your eye, Lance !' 

' Yes, darling.' 

' To bear always in mind that she was 
a solemn legacy from your wife, to guard 
her from evil, and to do all you can to 
make her a good, happy woman.' 

' My love, I will try my best.' 

' It is a promise,' she said, softly. * You 
ahvays keep your promises. Lance. Will 
you kiss her now — just there in front of 
her ear. She is a lovely baby. Lance — 



PENHALA. 147 

you will have a daughter to be proud of 
one day. Now kiss me, dearest. I think 
I shall be able to sleep now.' 

It was about midnight when there began 
a startled bustle and movement in the 
sick-room, and messengers w^ere sent fly- 
ing through the suddenly aroused house 
in search of Penhala and the doctor. 

They were both in time for the end. 
She was sinking simply from exhaustion. 
The window was wide open to the satin- 
like softness of the October night, but 
even so the room was warm, and the 
doctor presently signed to one of the 
nurses to move the child, that the patient 
might have more air. 

But at the first attempt the dying 
woman made an effort, lifted her hand, 
and laid it detainingly on the babe. She 
raised her fast-fading glance as she did it, 

l2 



148 PENHALA. 

and saw her husband's sorrowful face at 
the bedside. As their eyes met, through 
the gathering shadows, in hers there glim- 
mered for an instant the ghost of a smile. 

' Your promise,' she breathed, ' you 
shall have — your reward.' And then the 
shadows closed in quickly, and the light 
went out of her face as at an unseen 
touch. 

And, leaning over to kiss her, Penhala 
felt the warm breath of the little one 
brush his cheek, and, turning instinctively, 
kissed that too. 

' Whose child is it .^' he asked, as they 
took the little creature from under the 
waxen hand. The dead woman had been 
very dear to him, and his heart was 
aching under its new sense of loss ; but 
he and the heart-ache were such old 
cronies by this time, that he made no great 



PENHALA. 149 

outward sign over its re-arrival. His 
handsome face took on an added touch of 
stillness, his lips paled under the uncon- 
scious pressure he put on them, his eyes 
darkened under their prominent brows, 
that was all those about him saw ; the 
rest they knew without seeing. ' Whose 
child is it, doctor ?' 

The doctor took him by the arm and 
led him away into the next room, follow- 
ing the woman with the baby ; who, after 
making the sleeping child comfortable on 
a pile of cushions, went back again to her 
duties in the death-chamber. 

' It is the child of a Mrs. Smith, who 
came from no one knows where a few 
weeks ago, and put up at Mrs. Polwhele's.' 

' A poor woman?' 

' A lady,' returned the doctor, decisive- 
ly ; ' for the other, I can't say. There is 



150 PENHALA. 

no want of money showing itself just now, 
at all events. I would not say as much 
among the townspeople, you know, but 
there is a good deal that puzzles me about 
the matter. In the first place — the name. 
No one in the place knows anything of her 
but her name. Suppose she dies — even now 
it is not unlikely — what chance of identi- 
fication does the name " Smith " carry with 
it? Then, of all places in the wide world 
to choose for her confinement, why should 
she pitch upon Carn Ruth? Without 
society of any kind, with inferior accom- 
modation, and ten miles from the nearest 
railway-station. There's only one respect in 
which it possesses any marked advantages, 
and that is, as a hiding-place.' 

Penhala lifted his sombre eyes from the 
face of the sleeping babe to look at the 
speaker. 



PENH ALA. 151 

' Yes,' he went on, evidently in answer 
to the look, ' that is my impression also. 
It was desirable that this poor little 
beggar's birth should be concealed, and 
that was why it was arranged that it should 
take place in Carn Ruth.' 

' Then perhaps — ' said Penhala, and 
paused. What could he do with a girl 
child at his heels, he was thinking. And 
yet, if his own child had lived, he would 
have had to manage somehow. And his 
mfe's last action had been an attempt to 
keep the babe near her, her last breath 
had been spent in reminding him of his 
promise to love and cherish the child. 
Under the influence of emotions born of 
such moments as these, the wisest men 
are sometimes guilty of the grossest folly. 
' Then perhaps,' he began again, and this 
time he completed his sentence, ' the poor 



152 PEXHALA. 

soul might be induced the more easily to 
part with the child.' 

' You would take it — adopt it ?' 

The doctor was honestly surprised. 

' I gave my wife a solemn promise this 
afternoon to do the best I could for the 
poor thing — I would carry the promise 
out, if it were anyway possible.' 

It was on the very tip of Winthrop's 
tongue to advise him not to give way to a 
sentimental impulse, the indulgence of 
which might cause him life-long regret. 
But thoLio'h the thouo:ht was in his mind 
the words were difficult to say. There 
was something in Lance Penhala's face, 
as he stood there, looking down at the 
sleeping child, which for the time being 
put worldly wisdom at a discount. With- 
out quite understanding the bias of his 
silence, the doctor left his shrewd advice 



PEXHALA. 153 

unspoken, contenting himself, instead, with 
a mental memorandum to put Lady Pen- 
ruddach on to the task to-morrow. 

But what is to be, will be ; and two 
months later, when Mrs. Polwhele at last 
considered Mrs. Smith well enough to hear 
the whole truth about everything, the 
baby was still up at the big house on the 
hill. 

' We have been telling you all this time 
that the baby was away, out at nurse,' 
said the innkeeper, ' and in a manner of 
speaking it was true, my dear.' They had 
grown to know each other very well 
during those weeks of the constant inter- 
course of a sick-room. * But it's not per- 
haps just the sort of nursing you have 
been fancying.' 

With that childlike interest in out-of- 
door trifles which invalids feel when they 



154 PENHALA. 

first move from the bed to the window, 
Mrs. Smith was watching the boatmen 
warp a large smack round the head of the 
little pier that lay under Tregarron Head. 
But there was a touch of anxiety in Mrs. 
Pohvhele's voice, and Mary, recognising 
it, turned quickly to know the cause. 

' You're not going to disappoint me 
again?' she cried. 'I have been so 
patient all this time. Were you ever a 
mother ? Do you know how my heart 
hungers for a sight of my baby ? There — ' 
this with a sudden new fear in her eyes 
— ' there is nothing w^rong with it ! It is 
not ' 



' No, no ! my dear,' cried Mrs. Polwhele, 
' don't fuss yourself with that notion. 
The babe is a real beauty, and, come what 
may, you shall see her to-day if your mind 
is set on it. The child is staying up at 



PENHALA. 155 

Penhala's house, and I'll send Jenny up 
with ' 

' Penhala's house ?' Mrs. Smith half- 
rose from her big chair, with every drop 
of blood ebbing away from her face. 
'Why have you sent my baby there?' 

' Oh dear, oh dear !' began Mrs. Pol- 
w^hele, scared cut of her life at the way 
her news was taken, ' I always said harm 
would come of it — I almost went down on 
my knees to talk Dr. Winthrop out of it. 
My dear, it was none of my doing !' 

But the first shock of the news was 
over now, and Mrs. Smith dropped back 
in her chair, trembling, but a little on her 
guard again. 

Her little one in its grandfather's house ! 
What strange chain of circumstances had 
brought about such an accidental piece of 
justice as that? 



156 PENH ALA. 

* You see, Mrs. Smith,' continued Mrs. 
Polwhele. gathering courage as she pro- 
ceeded, ' when the doctor suggested it — 
suggested that your little one should go 
up yonder — it was as a last hope for poor 
Mrs. Penhala. She kept on all the time 
asking for her child, and they were afraid 
to tell her that it had never lived, they 
thought that the shock would kill her 
outright. And then the doctor thought of 
your babe — then just a week old — and 
dashed down in the carriage to fetch it. 
My dear, I wouldn't have let it go only he 
pressed me so hard, and promised me so 
solemn that it should be back at your 
side long before you were sensible enough 
to miss it — you see, my dear, he couldn't 
foresee then what was going to happen, any 
more than any of the rest of us. And if 
we had we should have been hard put to 



PENHALA. 157 

it to decide what to do for the best, with- 
out your word on the matter.' 

' The child is well ?' asked Mary again. 
She found it necessary to keep that fact 
well to the fore, during Mrs. Polwhele's 
rambling explanations. ' You're quite 
sure my baby is well, and straight, and 
strong?' 

' My dear, it is a picture of a child I' de- 
clared Mrs. Polwhele ; and at that Mary 
sighed, and sank back in her seat, and 
possessed her soul with patience, till she 
should understand how this most wonder- 
ful condition of affairs had come about. 

And when she did understand, she sat 
very still in her big chair, gazing out of 
window. But her eyes had no perception 
of the material in them ; they had the 
appearance of looking iuAvard, as if they 
were holding- converse with her own soul. 



158 PENHALA. 

Mrs. Polwliele — having finished her 
story of Penhala's promise to his dying 
wife, and of his desire to fulfil that promise 
by 2)utting the strange child in the place of 
his own dead babe — stood for a few seconds 
watching the rapt look on Mary's face. 
And then, from somewhere, the fancy came 
to her that the little lady was praying — 
maybe for guidance in this matter of her 
little one's future, and she stole quietly 
^way and left her to it. 

She never remembered, when she had 
been in any perplexity concerning her 
Hagar, doing anything of that kind herself. 
She wondered a little, as she crept quietly 
down the stairs, whether things might not 
have gone dilFerently if she had. 

To Mary, thinking her busy thoughts 
by the little window, it seemed as if God's 
own right hand were shaping her child's 



PENH ALA. 159 

destiny. As she realised all that had hap- 
pened during her unconsciousness, a touch 
of somethino- that was nearlv akin to awe 
settled down on her. In her then state of 
mind she imagined something of the super- 
natural in the whole arrangement, from 
beginning to end. She lost sight of the 
perfectly natural sequence of the events 
which had led to her presence in Carn 
Ruth at that especial time ; she was in the 
mood to impute the event itself, and all 
the circumstances leading to it, to the im- 
mediate influence of that higher unseen 
power, a belief in which comes back at 
times to the very worst of us. 

How should she reconcile herself to the 
loss of her little one ? Alas ! that she did 
not know ; she only knew that, reconciled 
or not, it was a loss she would have to 
submit to. How could she dare to rebel 



160 PENHALA. 

when heaven itself interfered, so unmis- 
takably, to restore to her little one some 
share of her just rights. 

' I will bring the child up as my own,' 
was the message Penhala had sent to her^ 
' if the mother will undertake to leave it in 
my hands entirely.' 

And Mrs. Polwhele had said that he 
was already learning to love the tiny babe 
— the only child of his only son ! And 
was it likely that she would step in, with 
her selfish jealousy, and prevent such a 
righting of a past wrong as this? She 
must go away somewhere — a great distance 
away it must be, because she knew her 
own weakness — and do battle with her 
mother's yearning as best she might. 

Yes, a great way off she must go, be- 
cause there would be times, oh, she knew 
it quite well, when her child's well-being, 



PENH ALA. 161 

her desire to see justice done to John's 
child, her fear of betraying the whole truth 
to John's father, all, all would count as 
nothing beside the mother's mad heart- 
huno^er for her child. And at these times 
she would not be able to control herself, 
that unconquerable yearning would drive 
her, against her better judgment, to make 
some effort to see her wee love. 

And the only safeguard against yield- 
ing to this selfish impulse would be to 
put such a great distance between herself 
and her baby — poor John's baby who had 
never had a father — that the madness 
w^ould have time to cool down while she 
was making her way to her darling, that 
she would have time to conquer the jealous 
craving before she reached the child's 
presence, time to persuade herself that 
her duty to her child demanded her imme- 

VOL. II. M 



162 PENHALA. 

diate return the way she had come, there 
to endure, as best she might, the aching 
void in her heart until the madness came 
upon her again, and drove her forth on 
another fruitless journey. 

And so Lance Penhala was allowed to 
fulfil his wife's dying request, and carried 
the little creature off to London with him, 
glad to once more shake the dust of Corn- 
wall off his feet. For it seemed to him, 
now more than ever, that there was a 
curse on the beautiful house his grand- 
father had built for his descendants, and 
Lance almost felt like registering a vow 
never to set foot in Carn Ruth again. 

But he was not a man given to the 
utterance of hasty vows, so he contented 
himself instead with making arrangements 
for a very long absence. And, as the 
years passed on, the beautiful house 



PENH ALA. 163 

among the pines gradually sank into the 
condition of a mere shooting-box, for the 
use of Mr. Penhala's intimate friends, 
when they came down for a week or two's 
wild-duck shooting among the retired 
pools on the estate. 



m2 



BOOK III 



167 



CHAPTER I. 

THE THIN END OF THE WEDGE. 

Seventeen years, look at it as leniently 
as you may, is a large slice out of a man's 
life. Drop a man at twenty-five and pick 
him up again at forty- two, how does your 
meeting with him differ from a meeting 
with an absolute stranger ? His features 
are probably changed past all recognition, 
so that, as you talk to him, you find your- 
self every now and then searching his face 
in vain for some trace of the old familiar 
personality. But, marked as the change 



168 PEXHALA. 

of feature is, you soon discover that the 
change in the man himself is still more 
pronounced, and, often, still more to be 
regretted ; and you begin to wonder, with 
a new touch of keenness in your mental 
vision, whether this extraordinary altera- 
tion is confined to your friend — whether, 
in fact, the transformation in yourself, 
your own outward man and temperament, 
is not even more marked and more to be 
deplored than the other man's. 

Perhaps the change — the moral change, 
at all events — is more marked between 
twenty-five and forty than in any other 
fifteen years of a man's life. Romance, a 
living reality at twenty-five, is at forty 
a dead letter. The mature man of the 
world no longer believes in things as they 
seem, he knows them for what they are ; 
and even while he poohs ! and pishes ! at 



PENH ALA. 169 

the folly he has cast behind hhn, he would 
gladly exchange some of his hard-earned 
hwwledge for a touch of the old, sweet 
belief. He has long since found out that 
the world, as it is, is not half so desirable 
a place to live in as the world of his 
youth's imagining. 

But this particular change had been 
over with Lance Penhala before the death 
of his second wife. He was already ap- 
proaching fifty when that misfortune befell 
him, and linally decided him to make no 
further attempt to perpetuate the Penhala 
family in the direct line. A lapse of 
seventeen years, therefore, brings him 
nearer to seventy than sixty. And yet, 
as far as heart and feeling go, he is a 
younger man this morning, as he sits 
talking across the table to his daughter 
Ellaline, than he was all those years ago. 



170 PENHALA. 

In some quaint way Ellaline has man- 
aged, in her father's household, to reverse 
the usual order of things. All her life 
she has associated with grown-up people,, 
but instead of taking the contagion of their 
staidness and dignity, and developing into 
that saddest of anomalies, an old-fashioned 
child, she has infected her elderly play- 
fellows with j uvenility , and inspired them 
with a youthfulness, a capacity for enjoy- 
ment, a general gladness of spirit not usu- 
ally associated with people of their years. 

Old Parsons, the Penhala butler — a 
faithful old servant who goes wherever his 
master goes, and has done for this last 
twenty years or more — has a name of his 
own for Ellaline ; he calls her ' Miss Sun- 
shine ;' and the name fits her without a 
crease. All her life she has been absorb- 



PENHALA. 171 

ing sunshine, and distributing it to tliose 
with whom she comes in contact. Nature has 
bestowed upon her the priceless blessing 
of a sunny spirit, and circumstances have 
combined to foster this especial loveliness 
of her disposition. Temper? Oh, yes, 
she has a temper ; easily enough roused, 
too, on some points : but resentment is 
a thing unknown to her, and sulkiness a 
form of madness she does not comprehend. 

And she is wofully spoilt, most wofuUy ! 
She was giving an illustration of this last 
point now, as she discussed the morning's 
letters with, her father. 

They were in the morning-room of the 
big Brighton house Avhere two-thirds of their 
year was generally spent, and, November 
though it was, the sun was glinting on the 
waves just across the road, and on the 



172 PENHALA. 

road itself, with a brilliancy which seems 
to strike one as being more noticeable at 
Brighton than in most places. 

' And now you are going to disappoint 
me again !' she cried, as her father came to 
the end of the letter he had been reading ; 
and there was mutiny in her whole bear- 
ing. ' This is the third year you have 
promised to spend Christmas at Penhala's 
house, and now you are going to slip out 
of it again !' 

There was a lady with white hair — but 
a very pretty lady for all that — busy 
among a lot of bills at a writing-table at a 
little distance. She looked up at the dis- 
respectful tone of this outburst. 

' Ella, my dear !' she said, in gentlest 
remonstrance. ' Ella !' 

' Oh, yes !' flashed out the young lady, 
with a glance and a shrug in the speaker's 



PENHALA. 173 

direction. ' Of course, Mamma Marj^ 
you'll join in the conspiracy to put me 
down and tyrannise over me ; you always 
do!' 

At this Mr. Penhala looked at the 
white-haired lady, and, meeting her amused 
glance, he broke into laughter; and the 
next moment they were all three laughing 
in chorus. 

But Ellaline was the first to recover her 
gravity. 

' It's all very well to laugh,' she said, 
trying to pout again. But with all her ef- 
forts she only succeeded in making herself 
look more bewitching than ever as the pout 
and the dimples struggled against one 
another for supremacy. ' But to me this 
is really a crushing blow. Here am I, a 
grown-up young woman, turned seventeen, 
and I have never yet had so much as a 



174 PENHALA. 

peep at the property which is my birth- 
right ! Oh, I'm not really finding fault 
with you, you know, dad dear,' she added 
quickly, as she saw a sudden cloud darken 
her father's face. ' Of course you would 
not have kept away from Carn Ruth all 
these years, if you had not had your own 
very good reasons for it. Only it does 
seem just a weeny, weeny bit hard that, 
as I had at last talked you out of your 
morbid avoidance of the place, this long- 
lost cousin should have turned up to 
shatter my hopes again. I suppose we 
couldn't take him down to Cornwall with 
us, eh ?' 

' I'm afraid not. I think you will have 
to consent to another postponement, my 
dear. You see what Paul says — that his 
object in coming to England is to obtain 
employment as secretary or corresponding 



PENH ALA. 175 

clerk, or some post of the kind. Would 
he be likely to obtain an appointment of 
that sort in Carn Ruth, do you think ? 
Come now, make the best you can of it, 
and I'll drive a bargain with you, and 
promise to take you to Cornwall at the 
end of the summer. You will get a far 
better first impression of the place then, 
than now.' 

Ellaline was immediately radiant with 
delight. 

' Will you really give up the grouse on 
purpose?' 

' Yes, really. You see, Ella, I am par- 
ticularly anxious to do all I can for Paul 
Petrovsky. My second marriage, though 
he was only a school-boy at the time, was 
a great blow to him — he had hoped to be 
my heir. He never came near me after- 
wards, spent his holidays instead in town, 



176 PENHALA. 

■with old friends of his father's — political 
refugees, and all that sort of thing. That 
was how he fell into trouble. He doesn't 
say so here, but I'm almost certain that 
some of these years of silence he has 
spent in prison. My dear, you don't under- 
stand ' — Ellaline had looked scandalised — 
' I don't mean for picking a pocket, or 
breakins^ into another man's house. These 
unfortunate patriots look upon a term of 
imprisonment as a thing to glory in, rather 
than be ashamed of. There is no doubt 
in my own mind that Paul fell into the 
hands of some of his father's old associates, 
and was sent by them on some mission of 
danger, and got caught, and had to suffer 
for it. He's just the fellow to do it too ; I 
remember how he gloried in his father's 
death, when he was only a little chap 
of ten or eleven, because he believed it 



PENHALA. 177 

would benefit The Cause. If he could talk 
like that then, what would he be when he 
grew up? Oh, he has been in trouble 
sure enough ; and for that very reason I 
should be especially sorry to do anything 
that could give him the idea that I was 
not glad to see him.' 

Ellaline went and put her arms round 
her father's neck, and kissed him, and 
told him he was the greatest darlino; in all 
the world. But the trouble did not quite 
clear from his face under her caresses, as 
was usually the case ; when he went away 
to his study to answer his letters it was 
there still, and she saw and was perplexed 
by it. 

Althouo;h Penhala had fouo^ht his 
nephew's battle so long as there was a 
shade of antagonism to contend against, 
he was no sooner alone than he had to 

VOL. II. N 



] 78 PENHALA. 

beoin tlie battle over again. This time 
bis antagonists were bis own prejudices. 

^\ay back in the past, years ago, the 
knowledge had come to him — without any 
seeking on his part — that that unpardon- 
able cruelty of his son's, the perpetration 
of the sham marriage between him and 
Hagar Polwhele, had been suggested and 
carried through, from beginning to end, by 
Stanislaus Petrovsky. It was this know- 
ledo^e that was doo^orinor his thouo^hts now. 
He might tell himself as often as he chose 
that it was the heisfht of iniustice to make 



n 



ll^J 



the son in any degree answerable for the 
backslidings of his father, and still the 
feeling remained with him, that he would 
willingly have given ten thousand pounds 
to buy Paul Petrovsky's absence just 
now. 

The introduction of these Russians into 



PEXHALA. 179 

his family circle had hitherto always 
brought disaster with it ; that he should 
dread a renewal of the intercourse was 
scarcely to be wondered at. 

And yet he could see the injustice of 
this prejudice against a man who had 
never done him nor his the least harm ; 
but for all that the prejudice continued to 
exist. Xever, under any circumstances, 
could he feel a genuine liking for the son 
of the man who had led his lost boy into 
such depths of scoundrelism. And, just 
because of his secret feeling of repugnance, 
he felt the more compelled to show his 
nephew every outward sign of courtesy 
and hospitality. His affection or liking he 
could not compel in any given direction, 
his hospitality and personal influence he 
coulci. 

By that day's post a warm invitation 

N 2 



180 PENHALA. 

Tveiit out to Paul Petrovsky, pressing liiui 
to make liis uncles house his home, as long 
as it suited his convenience so to do. 

Ellaline, meantime, was discussing the 
situation with considerable force and 
candour. 

As she turned with a look of half comi- 
cal diso^ust to the lady at the writins^-table, 
she found that she also had been watching 
Mr. Penhala from the room. 

• You noticed it too, then I' she ex- 
claimed, with a kind of make-believe anger 
she often indulged in. * I suppose I'm a 
mean, selfish little brute, but if this 
foreim bosrev of a cousin is joiner to make 
my father often look like that, I shall wish 
him back in his Russian prison, with the 
rest of his precious patriots.' 

Mamma Mary shook her beautiful head, 
and smiled a very little, and turned her 



PEXHALA. 181 

orlance to her bills ao:ain. It looked as if 
she knew exactlv how much worth were 
these unamiable declarations of Ellaline's, 
and had given up protesting against them. 

But this time Ellaline darted across the 
room, and snatched up the obnoxious pile 
of bills before Mrs. Smith could prevent 
her. 

' Dearest darling, I entreat of you not 
to shut me up in that cruel fashion !' she 
cried, tragically. ' I'm just dying to ask a 
thousand questions, and the moment I 
begin to talk, you put on your most for- 
bidding air of rebuke, and inform me, with 
a look, that you refuse to have anvthino; to 
do with me.' 

The lady who had been addressed as 
Mamma Mary folded her hands with an air 
of resignation, 

' You overgrown baby !' she said. ' I 



182 PENH ALA. 

wonder will you ever be anything else. 
Ella?' 

' Xot as long as I can prevent it,' re- 
torted Ella, with a wicked smile. ' The 
babies get the best of it in this world, 
Mummy ; who'd be grown up if they could 
help it?' 

Mamma Mary shook her head again, 
this time in obvious agreement with the 
question, and Ellaline, having safely dis- 
posed of the bills, perched herself on the 
edge of the writing-table, and began to 
' touch up ' the plenteous ripples of the 
elder lady's silvery hair. 

' Mummy, I want to know heaps of 
thino^s. This cousin Paul — Do you know 
him ?' 

' How should I? You heard what your 
father said ? The foolish young man has 
never been near him since his second 



PENHALA. 183 

inarriao;e. I did not appear on the scene 
until some years after that event, you 
know.' 

' Xo, of course. Naturally. My father 
would hardly engage a governess before 
there was anythino^ to teach, would he ? I 
wonder what the horror is like ?' 

' Ella dear, don't ! The poor fellow is 
evidently in trouble, and ' 

' Oh, yes, I know,' returned Ella ; ' but 
he made my father look glum. I don't see 
that his misfortunes are any excuse for 
that. And, indeed, I can't see why my 
father should allow himself to be worried, 
by the misfortunes of a person who has 
turned his back on him for eighteen years, 
can you?' 

Mamma Mary did not answer at once. 
She was trying to decide in her own mind 
why Mr. Penhala was so evidently dis- 



184 PENH ALA. 

quieted by this news of his nephew's 
return. Surely there was something more 
than sympathy in it ? Was it not more 
probable that this disturbance arose from 
an altogether different train of ideas. 

It was years since she had last heard 
the mention of Paul Petrovsky's name ; 
indeed, it seemed to her that she had 
scarcely heard it since the first year of 
her residence in Mr. Penhala's house. 
Perhaps Penhala had allowed himself to 
slip into the belief that this nephew of 
his — his heir-at-law, as the white-haired 
lady well knew — would never be seen or 
heard of again in England ; perhaps it 
was his re-appearance itself, and the 
imbroglios likely to arise from it, which 
had brought that look of anxiety to 
Penhala's usually placid brow. Ellaline 
had hitherto been his all in all, his darling, 



PENHALA. 185 

whose wish was invariably his law — could 
it be that he foresaw already that all this 
would have to be altered now this young 
man was on the scene again? What more 
likely ? Then was this long spell of peace 
and happiness — such happiness as in the 
day of her trouble she had not dared to hope 
for — to come to a sudden end with Paul 
Petrovsky's re-appearance ? Was this fire- 
brand, this revolutionist, to break up the 
peace of their summer sky, to plunge 
them into a vortex of strife and duplicity, 
in which each one would be secretly 
striving to undo the scheme of his neigh- 
bour? It seemed to her that with his 
coming something of the sort was bound 
to happen, and she found herself almost 
echoing Ellaline's wish — that he was back 
in his Russian prison with his fellow 
patriots. 



186 PEXHALA. 

Ellaline's fingers stopped suddenly 
their little caressing touches among 
Mamma Mary's hair, and, dropping swiftly 
to her chin, turned her face up for in- 
spection. 

' Why, it has got hold of you too !' cried 
the girl, in a little fury. ' You look more 
worried than the dad. What in the name 
of mystery does it all mean ? What is 
there about this unknown cousin of mine, 
that the mere talk of his coming should 
throw you all into this state of miserable 
worry ? I believe you do know something 
about him after all, and that it is some- 
thing dreadfully wicked.' 

' My dear, I know nothing whatever !' 
said Mamma Mary, and for some reason 
which she could not have explained to 
save her life — for, even if she would, how 
could she have put the foolish incom- 



PEXHALA. 187 

prehensible foreboding at her heart into 
words that should carry any conviction to 
her hearer — the unusual tears came rush- 
ing to her eyes, and she rose in quick 
vexation at her own folly, and walked over 
to the window. 

But Ellaline was after her like a shot, 
and pulled her down into a low arm-chair, 
and knelt by her side, and hugged and 
comforted her in her own peculiar 
fashion. 

' Why, Mrs. Smith, to think you 
should cry about it !' she said, reproach- 
fully. ' I know now why you don't 
want him to come — you think he will 
have to be here a great deal with 
us, as one of the family, and you are 
fancying he will be what you spoke about 
the other day — the thin end of the wedge 
of separation between us two. But he 



188 PENHALA. 

shan't, darling, he shall never come be- 
tAveen us — he should not, even if I liked 
him ever so, instead of hating him heartily 
with all my might, as I have made up my 
mind to do. It will take something much 
more wonderful than this foreign con- 
spirator, to shift you out of your own 
place in my heart — the second place, you 
know, dear, and a good second too ; it's 
you and dad first, and the rest nowhere.' 

Mrs. Smith smiled down into the girl's 
face, just now so sweet and tender with the 
desire to comfort her dear friend. She 
made no attempt to put her right as to the 
real reason of her breakdown. It was as 
well she should think her own solution of 
the mystery the right one. 

' But it can't be so always, you knoAV, 
Ellaline. I must find my level again, 
sooner or later. You and your father have 



PENHALA. 189 

done your best to make me forget it. iDut 
others are not so regardless of their 
dignity. Next season, when you are A 
Personage, with a recognised position in 
society, you will find how impossible it is 
for " Miss Penhala, the heiress," to keep to 
the very spirit of the old friendship with 
her governess.' 

' Nothing is impossible,' retorted Ella- 
line, with an imperious uplifting of her 
pretty head ; ' or at least very little is. 
Friendship — the very same real, true, old 
friendship that it has always been — will 
certainly never be impossible between you 
and me, and I won't allow you to say that 
it will. And another thing, Mamma Mary 
— I wish you would not speak of yourself 
as my governess.' 

' But. Ellaline ' 



' Oh, yes, I know all that I You gave 



190 PENH ALA. 

me lessons and all the rest of it ; but a 
o^overness — pooh ! That German creature 
who goes to the Menthorp girls every 
morning is a governess. You don't sup- 
pose you were ever that sort of thing to 
me? A person who set me tasks, and 
punished me if I didn't do them ; a poor 
thing that I made open fun of to your face, 
and looked upon as a very small step in- 
deed above the servants in the social 
scale.' 

'My darling!' Mrs. Smith said, gently, 
and said no more, because there was some- 
thing in her throat that made speaking 
difficult. 

' Yes, that's just it!' cried Ellaline, with 
a tiny laugh, and she laid her peach-like 
cheek for an instant down on the unsteady 
hands on Mrs. Smith's knee. ' You've put 
it in a nut-shell, Mamma Mary. I am your 



PENH ALA. 191 

darling' more than your pupil, and you — 
oh, a million times more than my governess 
you are my mother, my own dear Mother 
Mary.' 

Mary said nothing, but in the look she 
bent on the girl's downbent head there was 
a world of unshed tears. 

* 1 often wonder,' went on the bright 
young voice, pulsing with life and happi- 
ness and love, ' so very often, what on 
earth Avould have become of me if you had 
never been sent to take care of me. I 
can't think of my life, somehow, apart from 
my little mother. I woke up in the middle 
of the night about a week ago — I don't 
often do it, you know — and found the 
thought there, already, in my head — What 
would my life have been without Mamma 
Mary to love and to love me ? — Wasn't it 
strange ? I think I must have been dream- 



192 PENH ALA. 

ing it. What a wonderful thing it was, 
when you come to think of it, that you and 
I should have come across each other in 
that remarkable way, just when we were 
needing each other so terribly.' 

Again Mary made no answer. Had 
she chosen she could have told of years of 
patient waiting, and watching, and planning 
which had led up to that apparently ac- 
cidental meeting between her and the little 
child ; a meeting timed so exactly to hap- 
pen just when the mite was beginning to 
need some other companionship than that 
of her nurses. But the moment for such 
a disclosure as that had not arrived yet, 
perhaps never would arrive. The mother's 
heart — so loyal to her child's welfare, so 
awake to its own yearning — could not 
decide clearly whether she wished such 
a time to arrive or not. Whenever she 



PENH ALA. 193 

put the question to herself — as she did 
sometimes, poor, loving mother — there 
came such a rush of joy, and fear, and 
doubt, and agony into her mind, as to 
how Ellaline would receive the truth, that 
she was too mazed to be able to answer 
one way or the other. She could but fold 
her hands meekly and wait, trusting all 
might yet be well ; and oh, the strain and 
stress it was sometimes — just to sit still 
and wait, when her heart was bursting 
with its burden of love. And the child's 
loving little tricks and witcheries made 
it more difficult than ever. But she man- 
aged somehow to keep up appearances, 
though sometimes she hardly knew her- 
self how she escaped from the assaults of 
Ellaline's impulsive affection, with her 
secret still unspoken. 

There was another point, too, which 

VOL. IT. O 



194 PENHALA. 

kept her constantly on the alarm — Ella- 
line was growing so like her father, John. 
AVhat if Mr. Penhala should see this like- 
ness and begin to make enquiries ? Every 
fresh return they made to the London 
house in Eaton Square, the first time they 
entered the dining-room, where John's 
portrait still hung, she expected Penhala 
to call out in sudden affrighted discovery 
of the truth. And what would happen 
then she did not dare to imagine. Would 
he denounce Ellaline as the daughter of 
a murderer ? Perhaps. Oh, poor, high- 
spirited little Ellaline ! Would he accuse 
her of having knowingly taken part in the 
scheme for securing the shelter of her 
grandfather's house ? He might. Men 
under the influence of sudden passion 
were invariably unjust. And then Ella- 
line, awaking to the fact that she too had 



PENH ALA. 195 

been deceived, that she was only his 
daughter by adoption, and that he was 
accusing her of worming her way into his 
house by underhanded means — how was 
she likely to behave ? She would walk 
out of his home, like the proud, reckless 
little termagant she was, heedless of all 
consequences. 

And then — surely then would come the 
mother's opportunity ! But the mother 
could not forget the confession she would 
have to make : the confession of seventeen 
years of systematic duplicity ; and because 
of the greatness of her love, her fears were 
great also. Her spirit fainted within her 
at the mere imagining of Ellaline's scorn, 
at the mere thought of the blaze of indig- 
nation in her eyes as she turned on her, 
with the inevitable ' ei tu^ Brute P Have 
you too deceived me — you, whom above 

o 2 



196 PENHALA. 

all the world I have held in my heart of 
hearts ? 

No wj^pder her hair was white before 
its time, poor, tender, conscience-haunted 
creature that she was ! 

And the first thunder-bolt athwart the 
blue came from the very quarter she had 
auticipated. 

' How extraordinary,' said Paul Petrov- 
sky, within a quarter-of-an-hour of his 
arrival, as he seated himself at luncheon 
opposite John's portrait ; ' I fancied I saw 
it before — now I am cerfain of it ! I 
always thought John was the exact image 
of his mother, Uncle Lance, not a touch 
of the Penhala breed about him, and yet, 
look at the strong likeness between him 
and this other Penhala — they might be 
own brother and sister.' 



197 



CHAPTER II. 



KATERFELTO. 



In after times Penhala looked back to the 
little incident in wondering surprise at his 
own blindness ; at the moment he chose to 
think that, because he had not discovered 
the likeness himself, it existed chiefly in 
Paul's imagination, and dismissed the 
matter as not worth a second thought ; 
nothing was more common than these 
accidental likenesses. To Paul, on the 
other hand, believing Ellaline to be his 
uncle's daughter, the likeness between her 



198 PENHALA. 

and Jolin Penhala seemed nothing extra- 
ordinary. And so the crisis passed, and 
the colour came back to Mary's face before 
anyone had noticed her ghastly pallor, 
and, for the time, the thing was over and 
done with. 

A little to her own disgust, Ellaline 
found that she could not hate this new 
cousin as thoroughly as she had made up 
her mind to do. Perhaps his perfect 
manners had some attraction for her ; and 
there was something else about him which 
could not fail to attract her more than 
any mere gift of manner, a something 
which, for want of a stronger word, must 
be called ' impressiveness.' The man had 
suffered years of martyrdom for the cause 
he believed in, and the consciousness of 
suffer! no- for the rio-ht has, must inevit- 
ably have, an elevating influence on the 



PENH ALA. 19^ 

sufferer. Those years of silent endurance 
in a Russian prison had given a touch of 
genuine dignity to Paul Petrovsky's glances 
and bearing, which nothing could ever 
quite eradicate. 

To Ellaline, because of the solemnity of 
his manner and the severity of his dome- 
shaped forehead, and the curious pallor 
of his skin, and the subdued quietness of 
his voice, he seemed almost as old as her 
father ; and indeed at first sight he did 
appear nearly as old at thirty-two as his 
uncle at sixty-six. The only really young 
thing about him was his glance. His eyes 
were like his father's — deep, penetrant 
blue eyes, set in big, shadowy hollows, 
and protected still further from observa- 
tion by large, prominent brows of a dark 
brown — the only conspicuous touch of 
colour about his face. Indeed, but for 



200 PENHALA. 

that inner dignity which made itself felt 
the moment you were brought into com- 
munication with him, the clearest impres- 
sion he would have left on the mind of 
the ordinary observer would have been 
one of general insipidity — the short growth 
of flaxen hair and beard, the stony pallor 
of his skin, and the still tones of his voice, 
were, of themselves, so wanting in indi- 
viduality. But the brows partly redeemed 
the face from its colourlessness, and the 
eyes, had they been in evidence, would 
have completed the redemption. But very 
few people ever thoroughly saw Paul Pe- 
trovsky's eyes — they had betrayed him 
once, in the earlier days of his devotion 
to The Cause, and, since he could not 
bring them into subjection to his will, he 
kept them hidden as much as he could. 
It was the one tiny blemish in his man- 



PENHALA. 201 

ners, Ellaline thought, that he looked so 
seldom at you in conversation. 

But although he so rarely met the 
glances of those about him, there was 
little or nothing that went on around 
him which he did not see. He had 
learned the lesson, ' to hear and see all, 
and say nothing,' in a very severe school, 
and it was likely to cling to him all his 
life. 

And he saw nothing more quickly, from 
under the penthouses of his prominent 
brows, than his cousin Ellaline's beauty 
and sweetness. He was living his daily 
life with her, and, outward appearances to 
the contrary notwithstanding, he was still 
a young man. 

If she had been odious in herself and 
hideous to look at, he would, in all pro- 
bability, have still tried to win her, in 



202 PENHALA. 

order that he might have the handling 
of her dowry for the good of The Cause ; 
as it was, inclination and duty travelled 
for once in the same direction, and for a 
couple of months the belated hunter of 
will-o'-the-wisps lived in a fool's paradise. 
Penhala's next-door neighbour in Lon- 
don, Lady Glenhaggart of Glenhaggart, 
was the first person to scent the danger, 
when she came up to town at the begin- 
ning of March. And perhaps, but for 
her interference, things might have gone 
as Paul wished them to go. The chances 
are that Penhala would have offered no 
objection; indeed, he would probably have 
snatched at the arrangement as an admir- 
able solution of the difficulty in which he 
found himself — for he had never told his 
nephew the truth concerning Ellaline's 
parentage. 



PEXHALA. 203 

Lady Glenhaggart. however, had views 
of her own concerning Mr. Penhala's only 
daughter and heiress, and when Lady 
Glenhaggart had once formed a plan, she 
had a habit of carrying it through, and 
the more difficulties threatened it the more 
obstinate her ladyship became. 

To say that she was disconcerted, when 
she came to town and found this remark- 
able lookino' man domiciled in the Pen- 
hala family circle, would be to consider- 
ably understate her feelings on the point. 
The Russian was not handsome, certainly, 
but there was a something quite inde- 
scribable about him — an air of having 
done great things, and of having endured 
unmerited hardships — which might be far 
more dano'erous Avith a oirl of Ellaline's 
impulsive disposition, than all the straight 
noses and bewitching smiles in the world. 



204 PENHALA. 

After that first call on the Penhalas, 
Lady Glenhaggart went at once and de- 
spatched an urgent telegram to her son — 
not the late Lord Glenhaggart' s son, but 
her son by her first husband, George 
Pinto the stock-broker — requesting his 
immediate return to England, on account 
of the state of her health. 

Fitzwarrene Pinto was at Monte Carlo 
at the time, enjoying himself hugely, but 
he started ofi" at once on receipt of his 
mother's telegram, for he was old-fashioned 
enough to nourish some little remnant of 
regard for the author of his being; besides 
which, George Pinto had left the bulk of 
his money to his widow unconditionally. 

But he did feel he had been rather sold 
when he arrived home, and found his 
mother in her usual health. 

' It had been a heart attack,' she told 



PEXHALA. 205 

him : ' very alarming while it lasted, but 
soon over. However, now he was here, 
he might as well stay a few days ; there 
were already plenty of quite decent people 
in town, and in particular she wanted to 
introduce him to her next-door neighbour 
— Lancelot Penhala, the Cornish milHon- 
aire. He miofht be useful to Fitzwarrene 
by and by, when he took seriously to 
business.' 

Fitzwarrene turned down the corners 
of his good-humoured mouth at this new 
fad of • the old lady's,' and wished himself 
back in ^lonte Carlo. But on that point 
he altered his mind before the end of the 
day. 

For wise Lady Glenhaggart had not so 
much as mentioned the Cornishman's 
daughter, and Fitzwarrene was taken off 
his guard. 



206 PENHALA. 

Fitzwarrene did not return to Monte 
Carlo that spring, and Lady Glenhaggart 
presented Miss Penhala at the first May 
draAving-room, and Mr. Penhala invited 
Lady Glenhaggart and her son to spend 
the first fortnio^ht in June at his lonof- 
deserted place in Cornwall. 

Of course Petrovsky saw and under- 
stood everything ; but he had by no means 
given up all hope even yet. He did not 
spend so much time in his uncle's family 
circle as on his first arrival, perhaps be- 
cause he felt at a disadvantage in the 
atmosphere of Pinto's bright young gaiety, 
perhaps because he was finding more con- 
genial occupation for his leisure time than 
purposeless dawdlings about the Eaton 
Square drawing-room. 

An hour or two every morning he spent 



PENHALA. 207 

with his uncle, fulfilling his so-called secre- 
tarial duties — Penhala's own scheme this, 
perhaps used, in his own mind, as a set- 
off against the injustice he was contem- 
plating in anotlier direction — and after 
that Paul's time was his own. 

And as the spring advanced the Russian 
spent less and less of his time in civilized 
society, with w^hich he had no interests in 
common, and more and more of it in the 
company of those of the like hopes and 
aims with himself. 

Once he did certainly attemj)t to be- 
speak his uncle's sympathy on behalf of 
those cherished hopes and aims, but it was 
an attempt he never repeated. He had 
thrown out a feeler, in the form of a 
denunciation of the St. Petersburgh au- 
thorities for their treatment of himself. 



208 PENH ALA. 

Penhala listened quietly till he paused^ 
and then relieved himself of a trite 
truism, speaking without any touch of 
harshness : 

' People who play with the fire, must 
learn to bear their burns.' 

Paul answered nothing. It was his 
first and last attempt to obtain sympathy 
for himself or his pursuits from any 
member of his uncle's household. 

To EUaline he could never bring him- 
self to touch on the subject. Devoted 
heart and soul as he was to The Cause him- 
self, permeated though he was to the very 
core of his being with the conviction of 
its perfect righteousness and its ultimate 
triumph, he yet could see the hideous in- 
congruity of bringing such a creature as 
Ellaline, all light and life and happiness, 
into touch with the hole-and-corner work, 



PEXHALA. 20^ 

the gutter-raking, the underhanded spying 
and prying by which alone the organisa- 
tion could hope to make headway at 
present. 

But Ellaline, with all her brightness 
and gaiety, was by nature observant, and 
she could not help wondering a little over 
her cousin's preoccupation, and his frequent 
absence from home. 

She teased him a little sometimes about 
his tremendous secrets, and once, coming 
upon him stealthily in her father's study, 
and finding him leaning over a tiny note- 
book, with both hands clasped over his 
ears, she snatched the book from under 
his glance, and darted across to the window 
with it. 

The notes were in Russian ; she could 
not have read a word of them ; but with 
that fear of discovery which is ingrained 

VOL. II. p 



210 PENHALA. 

in the habitual plotter against authority, 
he clashed across the room with his eyes 
ablaze, and caught her in a grip like a 
vice before he knew what he was doing. 

She went pale at his look, and shrank 
up into the corner of the window-seat in 
very evident fright ; palpitating in his 
clutch like a bird who finds itself for 
the first time in the hold of its enemy, 
man. 

When he had restored the book to the 
safety of an inner pocket, and lifted his 
eyes again to hers, she was still regarding 
him in a kind of breathless, piteous be- 
wilderment, as if she were uncertain of 
his identity ; for indeed it seemed to her 
that she had never seen this infuriated 
creature with eyes of flame before. 

The shrinking horror of her look 
shocked him and shook his self-posses- 



PENHALA. 211 

sion ; and her lovely, frightened little face 
was quite close to his own, and his hand 
was still round her ; her heart was beat- 
ing wildly under the pressure of his 
"fingers, and all the untamed Tartar blood 
that was in him rushed in a mad wave to 
his head and outdid him. 

' For God's sake, child, don't look at me 
like that!' he cried, in, a half-strangled 
whisper. ' Do you think I would harm 
you? Don't you know, my little pear], 
my sweet, dainty blossom, that I love you 
with every drop of my blood, every beat 
of my heart ! — love you more than every- 
thing in heaven and earth put together ? 
Why, Ellaline, I would give my life to 
save you one hour of sorrow ! Do 
you think, then, that I would hurt 
you ?' 

But she had been too genuinely scared 

p 2 



212 PENHALA. 

to be easily re-assured, and in any case 
such fervid love-making as this was hard- 
ly the &0rt of thing to calm her. 

' You frighten me !' she gasped. ' You 
frighten me horribly. Let me go, Paul ! 
I — I think you are mad. You look dread- 
ful. Oh, pray, pray let me go ! I will 
never play you a trick again.' 

The child-like speech recalled him to 
himself a little. He loosened his hold and 
straightened himself, and laughed, with a 
miserable consciousness of having gone too 
far. 

' My darling, I ask your pardon,' he 
said, very humbly. ' From my heart I ask 
it, for having shocked you with my sav- 
agery. I should have been more gentle. 
English ladies are not accustomed to such 
displays of emotion. When an English- 
man tells a girl he loves her, he is careful 



PENHALA. 213 

above all to do nothing that shall make 
him ridiculous in her eyes. We bar- 
barians, with Asiatic blood in our veins 
— we are different ; our feelings run away 
with us a little more, but they are none 
the less real on that account. Perhaps I 
should not have said this to you, Ellaline, 
until I had first spoken to your father — I 
am sure I should not — but there it is, you 
see — it is done, and nothing can now undo 
it. You have surprised my secret from 
me, and it is my secret no longer. Do 
you think you could ever love me a little, 
Ellaline ? I would not be exacting, my 
•darling, I would try to be satisfied with 
what you could give me.' 

He had completely recovered his self- 
control now; so completely that Ellaline felt 
as if there w^as something unreal about the 
mad outburst of a minute ago, as if it had 



214 PENHALA. 

only occurred in her imagination. She 
had been so horribly frightened, that she 
scarcely realised it was an offer of mar- 
riage she was receiving ; there certainly 
was none of the usual bashful conscious- 
ness about her manner as she made her 
answer. 

'But I don't love you, cousin Paul, not 
like that, you know — I never should, I'm 
sure of it — and — I don't think we should 
suit one another — I like fun and — and — 
nonsense of all kinds, and you are so grave 
and quiet. Oh, I am sure I should be 
very unhappy as your wife ; but I'm sorry 
as sorry can be, if you are disappointed. 
You see, I couldn't be expected to know, 
could I ?' 

She got up with a little smile, which 
seemed to hint that the interview was 
over, and he crossed to the door as if to 



PENH ALA. 215 

open it, and then waited with his hand on 
the handle for a last word. 

' It is just as I expected,' he said, speak- 
ing with such a curious calmness all about 
him that he almost gave one the impres- 
sion of a person speaking in his sleep ; 
' and as for giving a thought of reproach 
to you, that is senseless folly — and 
yet ' 

Ellaline w^aiied, expectant of she hardly 
knew what. He did not look at her, his eyes 
were fixed on the bow of ribbon at her 
waist, and she formed a strange fancy that 
he Avas longing above everything to look 
her straight in the face, but was afraid 
lest she should discover that which he was 
bound to keep hid. ' And yet, Ellaline — ' 
the words came at last with an effort — ' I 
wish Avith all my heart and soul I could in- 
duce you to alter your decision. It is not 



216 PENHALA. 

only myself I am thinking of, dear — I am 
not even thinking most of myself, but of you. 
You would be so safe with me, dearest — 
I would guard and cherish you, so that no 
breath of danger should ever find its way 
into your presence — I would fend you 
round and round with my love till it stood 
as an impregnable wall between you and 
harm.' 

' But, cousin Paul,' put in Ellaline, 
gently, ' there is nothing of that sort 
to guard against — here — in happy old 
England. You are thinking of the dangers 
you have gone through yourself. Nothing 
of that kind will ever come near me, you 
know.' 

Then for an instant he lifted his eyes, 
and she felt as if blinded by a flash of 
vivid light. But his glance moved on 
again, away from her, before she could 



PENHALA. 217 

grasp its meaning — she only knew that 
it was full of significance, but what it 
signified she could not grasp. He opened 
the door without further parley, and put 
out his hand with a slow smile as she 
passed. 

' We shall be friends still, Ella, you and 
I ? Because you cannot give me the 
loveliest blossom in your garden, that is no 
reason why I should not be allowed to 
gather a few of the humbler kinds, eh ? 
Friendship and cousinly regard, and so 
tDn?' 

She tried to assure him on this point, 
but the wistfulness of his smile was too 
much for her, and grijDping his hand with 
all her little might in token of assent, she 
sprang past him and rushed away up the 
stairs, just as if she feared he might try to 
overtake her. 



218 PEXIJALA. 

On the landing half-way up she waited, 
w^ith both hands pressed to her heart, try- 
ing to shake off the curious, bodeful feeling 
he had left on her mind, in perfect uncon- 
sciousness of the astonished observation of 
a gentleman from the landing above. 

' Oh, I say, Miss Penhala,' he began ; and 
Ellaline, looking up and meeting his round- 
eyed stare of dismay, burst out laughing, 
and then, without a moment's interval, 
threw her hands up to her face and began 
to cry. 

But that was too much for the observer 
from above. In a couple of springs he was 
with her, holding her up, and endeavouring 
to wipe her tears with his handkerchief. 

' What on earth has upset you like this ?' 
he asked, in deep concern, ' To think you 
should have been put out like this to-day 
of all days — when I was coming in such 



PEXHALA. 21^ 

jolly spirits to tell you that I have talked 
the elders over after all. The mater has 
consented to go to the Oaks at last, and 
I'm off now to make the arrangements 
about going down. Come upstairs now 
and talk it over. I've been trying to per- 
suade Mrs. Smith to go, but she says it's 
right out of her line ; perhaps you'll have 
better luck. I say, what was it bowled 
you over like that ? Tell me all about it, 
won't you?' 

But that was just what Ella] in e was not 
at all likely to do. She was too genuinely 
sorry for Paul to think of betraying him, 
least of all to this happy, heedless, de- 
lightful young man, who was so busy en- 
joying himself and helping forward the 
enjoyment of others, that it would have 
seemed an incongruity to ask his sympathy 
for Paul Petrovsky's heart-ache. 



220 PENHALA. 

But she told her father all about it, and 
he in turn spoke to Paul, and was very 
^ood and sympathetic over it. 

' And while we are talking seriously,' he 
continued, after he had expressed his sor- 
row for Paul's disa23p ointment, ' I should 
like you to know that I have put you down 
for a legacy in my will, Paul. Ellaline is 
my heiress of course,' his glance fell away 
a little from his nephew's face as he made 
this admission, ' but since your return to the 
land of the living I have made an addition 
to my will, by which you will come in for 
twenty-five thousand on my death. I wish 
1 could think it would be of the least use 
to give you a word of advice as to the 
spending of it, but I know your breed too 
well.' 

Paul smiled slightly. 

' Ellaline will be a catch for our young 



PENHALA. 221 

friend,' lie said, quietly passing over the 
other insinuation. 

' Something of one — yes. Lady Glen- 
haggart knew what she was about when 
she threw them together. But I don't 
grumble. So long as the child is happy, 
my chief aim will be gained.' 

' Are things settled yet?' asked Paul. 

' Scarcely — but there is no doubt as to 
how they will go. This visit to Cornwall 
has been arranged on purpose to get them 
out of the endless hubbub of toAvn for a 
few days. You will come down with us, 
Paul? There is to be a couple of big din- 
ners during our stay. I should like you to 
be there — my only male relative, you know.' 

Paul looked irresolute and said nothing, 
until he caught a sympathetic glance across 
the table. 

' Oh no, it is not that,' he said then. 'I 



222 PENHALA. 

am not a boy, to ^vear my heart on 
my sleeve, and I would as soon be 
with you at Carn Ruth as elsewhere — 
sooner ; but — the fact is — the fact is. 
Uncle Lance, there are thino-s which miofht 
keep me in town — at any rate, I would 
rather not give you a definite answer for 
a day or two.' 

Penhala shook his head a little as he rose 
from the table. He was inclined to repeat 
his saying about playing with fire, but felt 
that his interference was hardly justified 
in the face of Paul's determined silence. 
And his advice would be only so much 
wasted breath — he had spoken truly, he 
' knew the breed.' 

There was the usual kaleidoscopic col- 
lection of humanity on Epsom downs that 
year on the last Friday in May; perhaps 



PENHALA. 223 

the collection stretched a little further and 
was a little more kaleidoscopic in character 
even than usual, for the weather was 
brighter and warmer than the English 
sporting world is usually favoured with at 
this particular meeting. 

Ellaline was in raptures of delight over 
the Avhole thing; Penhala, happy in seeing 
her happiness, was enjoying himself like a 
school-boy; Fitzwarrene was in the maddest 
spirits, and Lady Glenhaggart languidly 
satisfied with her surroundings. In the 
next carriage but one two daughters of 
a duke were shouting over the finishes, and 
playing practical jokes with as much gusto 
as any costermonger's girl on the downs ; 
but Lady Glenhaggart was careful never 
to let animation exceed the bounds of 
dignity. Those girls could afi'ord to be 
vulgar ; there was no weak point in their 



224 PENHALA. 

position ; they were not under tlie necessity 
— as she was — of keeping their guard for 
ever up. 

The afternoon was well on when Ella- 
line's glance was caught by a man going 
along inside the ropes, with a small port- 
able table carried over his shoulder. He 
glanced up as he came level with the 
carriage and met her gaze, full. Instinc- 
tively, as it seemed, his hand went up to 
his high dunce's cap of red paper — he was 
got up a la Katerfelto, in the conical cap and 
robe of the wizard of the middle-ages — and 
he gave her a quick smile and bow. 

' Homage to beauty,' murmured Fitz- 
warrene. 

' Don't be silly,' said Ellaline, blushing 
a little. ' I wonder what he does, Mr. 
Pinto?' 

' Jugglinof, sleight of hand, card tricks.' 



PEXHALA. 225 

answered Fitz. ' Jolly clever lie is at it 
too ; I saw him at Ascot last year.' 

' Quite a picturesque fellow, isn't he T 
said Penhala. ' Is the long hair and flow- 
ing beard his own, do you think ?' 

' We'll see,' said Fitz, hailing him. 
'Would you like to see what he can do^ 
Miss Penhala?' 

Penhala turned at the moment to answer 
a remark of Lady Glenhaggart's, and it 
happened that he did not face to the 
course again, until Katerfelto had formed 
a little ring for himself, and set up his 
performing table. 

That performance of the wayside wizard's 
was a little bit out of the usual run of 
such things. The rough and ready audi- 
ence of a race-course, is one of the last 
assemblages in which one would look for 
those sympathetic individualities which 

VOL. II. Q 



226 PENHALA. 

are sensitive to the emotions of others, 
and yet there were some, even among the 
crowd surrounding him, who were con- 
scious that this wandering vagabond, with 
the restless glance, and the flashing smile, 
and the nimble fingers, was going through 
the routine of his daily trickery under the 
stress of an overwhelming agitation. Ella- 
line, in particular, w^as curiously impressed 
by the man and his manner, more especially 
when he took advantage of the first bell, 
presently, to shut up his table with the 
rapidity of lightning, and dart away into 
the concealment of the crowd, without 
soliciting anything in return for his exhi- 
bition. 

'How odd!' she said, standing up to 
watch which way he went. ' I thought 
there was something a little unusual about 
him from the first. Did you see how his 



PENH ALA. 227 

hands shook when he started? I thought 
he was joiner to faint.' 

' Drink !' said Fitz. sententiously. 

' Fear of the police, perhaps,' suggested 
Penhala. ' These fellows are utter black- 
guards, most of them. I daresay his fingers 
are as clever in finding their way into 
other people's pockets as they are at palm- 
ing a card. Perhaps he saw a detective 
watching him.' 

' He wasn't up to his usual form, any- 
way,' declared Fitz. ' He did the whole 
business in dumb show to-day — as a rule 
he talks the whole time, and talks well 
too.' 

' Pooh, pooh ! leave the man alone,' said 
Penhala, with a touch of petulance very 
rare indeed with him. ' Fm orlad he's 
gone. If there is one thing I hate above 
another it is tricks with cards.' 

Q ^ 



228 PENH ALA. 

The subject was dropped at once, but 
Ellaline shot an enquiring glance at her 
father, as if she found his impatience a 
little difficult of comprehension. 

Katerfelto did not do much more busi- 
ness that afternoon. Ellaline's quick eyes 
had not deceived her — his hands did shake. 
By a supreme effort of will he had steadied 
the treacherous tremor during the few 
minutes he stood there, with Lancelot Pen- 
hala's quiet eyes upon him ; but his hard- 
ly won self-control deserted him as soon 
as the ordeal of facino^ that calm o^lance 
was over. The shaking returned; his 
quickness of touch failed him in the mid- 
dle of one of his simplest tricks, and his 
audience hooted him. 

At the end of that performance he took 
off his ])aper cap, and crushed it up and 
threw it away, replacing it by a soft felt 



PENHALA. 229 

hat from his pocket ; and, pulling off his 
robe of magic, he turned it inside out and 
threw it over his shoulder. He would do 
no more that day. He had had a shock ; 
he needed a steadying touch. 

He went off to one of the bars and had 
some brandy, and then made his way back 
to the course, and moved up with the 
stream again, in the direction of the Pen- 
hala carriage. He did not want to go, he 
was conscious of a very strong disinclina- 
tion to go, and yet a fascination stronger 
than his own will drew him on. 

Twenty-two years since he and Lancelot 
Penhala had last stood face to face, and 
in all those years the elder man had not 
changed so much as this battered, hard- 
drinking Katerfelto had in the first lave 
of the separation. A strange sensation it 
had been to find himself, without a mo- 



230 PENHALA. 

ment of warning, standing almost eye to 
eye with the handsome, stalwart Cornish- 
man' again ; a sensation in which he knew 
not what emotion came uppermost — 
joy, sorrow, fear, pleasure, which was 
it? 

That perhaps was what he was going 
back for, to settle the point to his own 
satisfaction. 

He saw the carriage some time before 
he reached it, and he managed, with a 
little contriving, to get next to the rails 
as he drew near. As he came level he 
pulled up altogether, and, slipping under 
the rail, leant his arms on it and stood 
thus, with his shoulders hunched up and 
his face to the course, within reach of the 
voices from the carriage. His hat hid his 
flowing locks from the view of the people 
behind him; for the rest, there was nothing 



PENHALA. 231 

especially conspicuous in his appearance 
to excite remark. 

The brandy — he had taken a large dose 
— had subdued whatever there was of fear 
in the condition of his mind, and as he 
leant there, in the warm May sunshine, 
amid the hum and roar and clatter of the 
huge charivari, a curious thing happened 
to him — he had a dream. 

He dreamed he was in the garden of a 
picturesque Sussex cottage, copying music 
in the shadow of a graceful acacia-tree. 
All around him there was that somniferous 
stillness, which denotes that Nature's 
working time is past, and her in-gathering 
is at hand. The very hum of the bees 
had a drowsiness about it — he certainly 
was very nearly asleej), when such a babel 
as this around him only reached his senses 
as the drowsy humming of the bees — and 



232 PENHALA. 

the leaves on the trees hung still and 
heavy in their full ripeness, as if they 
knew that the time was at hand when 
movement might be dangerous to their 
continued existence, and were taking 
lessons in immovability as a precautionary 
measure. 

He did not know how long he had been 
sitting there in the hushed stillness of that 
quiet garden, when he heard a voice speak- 
ing to him. All the dream, except the voice 
itself, was so intangible, so filmy in com- 
position, that perhaps it was really the 
voice which called the whole vision into 
being. This point he could not argue, 
for imagination had him in her grip ; and 
when imagination occupies the ground 
reason cannot enter. What the voice said, 
speaking very sweetly and gently, was 
this: 



PENHALA. 233 

'AYeall make mistakes; every one of us. 
Because you have made mistakes in your 
past, is that any reason why you should 
never do better in the future?' 

Those were the words that brought the 
dream to the man leaning over the rail. 
Almost the same words, in the same voice ^ 
had been said to him many a sin-stained 
year ago, in the beautiful silence of that 
retired Sussex garden. 

And then the dream played him false, 
for the answer came in a voice which 
awoke no echoes in the sounding vaults of 
his memory, and at a breath the vision of 
the still garden, with a girl in a white 
cotton frock and a blue waist ribbon, 
standing in the shadow of the acacia-tree, 
vanished back into the past w^hence it had 
come, and he was awake to his surround- 
ings again. 



234 PENHALA. 

And yet, was he awake? There was 
the voice again — the same voice, only 
gayer noAV. 

' Oh, Mr. Pinto,' it said, ' don't let us 
be serious to-day ! We will be as solemn 
as ever you like when we are in the coun- 
try next week — but to-day it would be 
such a waste of fun and sunshine to be 
serious.' 

Katerfelto lifted his arms from the rail 
and moved away to a little distance, push- 
ing himself in among the thickly packed 
carriages until there were one or two be- 
tween him and the one he had just left. 
Then, and then only, he raised his head, 
and, with the air of one who braces himself 
to receive a shock, took a steady look at 
the people he had been playing the eaves- 
dropper to. 



PENHALA. 235 

They were quite young people — a man 
and a woman — a boy and a girl would 
perhaps be nearer the mark. Nobody else 
was on the carriage with them at the 
moment, and he — the boy — had evidently 
been utilising the solitude a deux to his 
own ends. 

Katerfelto drew a big breath — like a 
man who is released from some hideous 
spell — as he took in the details of the girl's 
appearance. Perhaps he had expected to 
see a girl with a clear, pale skin, and 
masses of dark, glistening hair, and stead- 
fast gray eyes looking out from under 
well-marked brows. 

What he did see was a dainty maiden, 
all white lace and pale puce ribbons, a 
maiden with dancing brown eyes and 
rippling chestnut hair, with a skin of the 



236 PENHALA. 

purest pink and white, and dimpled cheeks, 
and a mouth like a rosebud for beauty, 
and smiles, and sweetness. Certainly 
there was no suggestion of the face he 
was recalling about this embodiment of 
sunshine, and yet, as he looked, his brows 
drew themselves together in perplexity, 
for it seemed to him there was some touch 
of familiarity in the little creature's love- 
liness. 

The carriage he was leaning against was 
vacant but for the servant on the box ; 
left in charge of the baskets and wraps. 
He waited there, just for want of some- 
thing else to do, watching the pretty child 
and her handsome young lover. And 
presently he went nearer again, and de- 
liberately listened to what they were 
saying. 



PENHALA. 237 



t T\ 



I'm not a bit tired of all the fun, you 
know,' said the girl, brightly ; ' but I 
would give up the whole season willingly, 
rather than lose this visit to Cornwall. I 
have been buildins" on it so Ions'.' 

The young man followed her lead with 
a touch of resignation in his good-tempered 
voice. 

' It seems so queer to think that you are 
going to see the place for the first time as 
well as us.' 

' Penhala's house, you mean ? Yes, 
doesn't it ? You don't know how excited 
I am about it all.' 

' And it. seems queerer still to think of 
Mr. Penhala. himself having been away 
from his own place for all these years.' 

' I think there is more in that than you 
or I quite understand,' answered the 



238 PENHALA. 

pretty voice again, a little lowered this 
time. ' I think the associations of the 
place are very sad. My mother died there, 
you know.' 

A sudden vivid comprehension flashed 
into the face of the listening man. Lance- 
lot Penhala had married again, and this 
was the daughter of the second marriage. 
That accounted for much — ay, for much, 
but not for quite all. The voice ? How 
came this child with the voice of that 
other one ? 

Penhala came back presently, escorting 
the splendidly dressed woman whom Kater- 
felto had seen in the carriage before. The 
strolling conjurer moved away as they 
came. He no longer felt drawn to Pen- 
hala's presence as he had done ; his 
thoughts had received a new impetus. 



PEXHALA. 239 

They — Penhala and a party of friends 
— were o^oino^ down to Cornwall next week. 
Strange how sudden is the birth of a 
desire in the human heart ! Half-an-hour 
a2:o this wanderino^ outcast had been con- 
scions of no deeper yearning in all his 
empty life than ' A good pitch, a full 
pocket, and enough drink to send him to 
sleep when the time for sleep came.' Now 
his heart was conscious of a sudden new 
desire — a desire so intense and vivid, that 
at its touch all other aims and objects 
faded into absolute nothingness. He too 
w^ould like to see Penhala's house again 
after all these years ! 

Until he had heard the delight in the 
girl's voice, as she spoke of going there, 
he had not had a suspicion that to him, 
too, it would be a dehght to see the beau- 



240 PENHALA. 

tiful old place again. And yet, now that 
the idea had once been jDresented to his 
mind, it had got such hold of him, that 
merely to think of it set his heart beating 
with a thousand emotions — emotions which 
he had imagined were long since dead 
within him. 

Just in the five minutes he had stood 
listening to that pleasant chatter, all the 
world had changed for him. 

The murky London slums, and the 
rowdy associates, and the reek of the 
flaring tap-room no longer formed the 
horizon of his desires. They stretched 
far far away across the extremest breadth 
of the land, to where the gargantuan 
masses of the Cornish cliffs frowned 
loftily down at the unceasing fretting of 
the wide Atlantic waters. 

So far stretched his desires. But he 



PENHALA. 241 

was a man of wax. Would he conquer 
the difficulties in his road, and carry them 
out? 



A^'OL. II. R 



242 



CHAPTER III. 

THE SON OF HIS FATHER. 

Paul Petrovsky did not travel down to 
Cornwall with his uncle's party. He had 
intended to till late on the evening pre- 
ceding their departure, and then some- 
thing happened to interfere with his 
j^lans. 

By the last post he received a letter, 
informing him of the arrival in England 
of a person whom he had not seen since 
he was a little lad of ten, running about 



PENHALA. 243 

the Continent from one revolutionary 
centre to another in the train of his father. 
The mere sio^ht of this personage's name, 
or rather the sight of the pseudonym 
which stood for his name — for neither 
things nor people were often called by 
their real names between Petrovsky and 
his fellow- workers — gave the young man 
something of a shock. Amongst all that 
band of devoted, self-sacriiicing labourers, 
this especial personage stood pre-eminent 
for self-sacrifice and devotion to che good 
of the confederacy. Indeed, there Avere 
those amongst the most single-minded of 
its adherents who would have called his 
fervour fanaticism, if it had been turned 
in any other direction. As it was, even 
while they revered him as one of the 
saviours of The Cause, there Avas perhaps 
a dash of fear in the composition of their 

R 2 



244 PENHALA. 

reverence. It was true that wherever he 
went, there the movement made most 
progress, but there, also, it was conducted 
with the most headlong disregard for the 
scruples of the more tender-hearted, the 
most implacable ferocity against the 
enemies of the organisation. Mercy had 
no meaning for him when rigour told for 
the good of The Cause, scruples had no 
existence in his mental retina, when they 
meant hesitation to use a,ny means that 
offered to the one end. 

Perhaps it was hardly to be wondered 
at that Petrovsky's heart should sink with 
a touch of foreboding, when he learnt 
that ' Ivan Leipold ' was to arrive in 
London that night, and had requested 
that an interview with Petrovsky should 
be arranged for him as soon as possible 
upon his arrival. 



PENHALA. 245 

And so it happened that Paul contrived 
to lose his train on the morning of the 
start for Cornwall, being at the moment 
engaged in conversation of a deeply ab- 
sorbing nature, in the garden of Leicester 
Square, with Ivan Leipold. 

' We can better i^uard ao^ainst listeners 
in the oj)en air,' Leipold had said. 
' Though on the other hand it would be as 
well we should go where we are least likely 
to meet personal acquaintances of yours, my 
son, for I am going to engage you in one 
of the perilous missions of our Cause, and 
when one sets out on a dangerous road, 
one should o;uard ao^ainst risks from the 
outset.' 

Paul bent his head with a murmured — 
' I am ready, my father,' and led the way 
to the most likely spot he could think of 
— the inclosure in Leicester Square. 



246 PENHALA. 

For an hour tliey paced slowly round 
the grass, and still the conversation went 
on without pause or hindrance. 

Leipold did most of the talking, always 
speaking quick and low, with an impres- 
sive intensity in his subdued voice ; the 
voice of one who recognised the difficulty 
of the task in hand, and was bringing the 
full power of his intellect to its accom- 
plishment. He carried his arms behind 
him, his shoulders thrown forward, and 
his head bent in the attitude of one who 
thinks deeply as he walks ; but now and 
again, as he sought to drive home some 
point in the discussion, his face would lift 
and his eyes flash round on his companion 
with an air of insistance, which seemed to 
put all argument out of the question. 

Not that Paul ofl*ered argument — that 
virtue at least these enemies of the Czar 



PENHALA. 247 

possess in perfection — submission to those 
who are by their own choice in authority 
over them. And this point is almost 
enough in itself to induce some belief in 
the actuality of the wrongs which have 
made anarchists and renegades of people 
capable of such a sublime obedience to a 
self-constituted authority. 

And Paul Petrovsky was least of all likely 
to oiFer opposition to the fiats of his fellow- 
labourers, for, apart from his revolutionary 
upbringings, there were his own private 
wrongs to be redressed. 

' This want of money has been our 
curse from the very beginning,' said Lei- 
pold. ' If we could borrow the wand of a 
magician for one minute, and transport the 
Bank of England, entire, into the midst of 
our poorest province, and keep it there to 
use for our own ends, I tell you, my 



248 PEXHALA. 

son, that those ends would be gained be- 
fore the money was exhausted. We al- 
ways get thus far in our projects, at the 
cost of a heroism and a devotion unsur- 
passed, if not unparalleled in the history 
of any political movement the world has 
knowledge of; and then, when these noble 
hearts are broken, this brave blood spilt, 
there comes a crisis in the financial work- 
ing of the scheme ; and the whole thing 
fails for the lack of a few paltry thous- 
ands, which one of our oppressors would 
lose in play at a sitting. When I heard of 
your matrimonial scheme, my son, I thought 
the sun had dawned at last on a day of 
prosperity for us.' 

Paul said nothing. 

' It would have been such a perfectly 
legitimate mamier of reaching your uncle's 
wealth. Still, if one only used legitimate 



PENHALA. 249 

means — " a faint shrug of the shoulder 
completed that portion of the sentence. 
* And now that those means have failed us, 
we must find others.' 

Still Paul did not speak ; but his promi- 
nent brows came a little closer, and the 
muscles of his mouth stiffened up for an in- 
stant, as when one experiences an internal 
agony and strives to suppress all visible 
symptoms of suffering. 

• You are absolutely certain on the sub- 
ject of this money?' 

' Absolutely.' 

To the direct question he answered 
promptly and emphatically. 

' A quarter of a million sterling you say, 
at the least T 

' At the least.' 

' Probably more?' 

* Most probably.' 



250 PENHALA. 

It was curious how the words slipped 
over his lips : clear, sharp, unhesitating^ 
but short to curtness ; as if his words were 
precious, and he would not waste one. Or 
was it that his self-command was limited, 
and he would not waste that ? 

' It is a large sum.' 

No answer this time, the assertion need- 
ing none. 

' In the hands of a faithful supporter 
of The Cause, it would be of incalculable 
benefit to us.' 

Still no response, and Leipold gives one 
of those flashing glances round at his 
companion's stony face as he says, 

' It must come into the hands of such a 
one, my son.' 

Paul lifts his hat, bends his head slightly 
and murmurs, 

' My father has said it.' 



PEXHALA. 251 

' Good !' returns Leipold, and the word 
sounds like the closing of a door which 
shuts oiF all escape. 

For perhaps half a minute they are 
silent, a silence which serves to intensify 
the meaning of what has gone before. 
Then Leipold starts again, his voice a 
note lower than before, a note more 
intense. 

' I have the full particulars ? There is 
nobody between you and the heirship 
to your uncle's wealth but this one 
girl ?' 

As he thus comes to details, the face of 
his companion settles into the tinge and 
stillness of a stone image, the lips scarce 
move as he answers, 

' Nobody, but this one girl.' 

' With her out of the way, you are 
bound to succeed to this money?' 



262 PENH ALA. 

' Provided my uncle died intestate, every 
farthing of it.' 

'Then he must die intestate.' 

A sound that is more a strano^led sigh 
than a moan comes from Petrovsky's 
closed lips; and slight as it is Leipold 
hears it. Without looking up he says, 
quietly, 

' Are you not the son of your father?' 

Paul raises his head and draws the 
warm June air in through his distended 
nostrils, breathing hard and short. If he 
parted his lips he would cry out. 

' It has been said to me of you that you 
were one eager to win distinction on the 
battle-fields of our rights — that you 
thirsted to perform some service of diffi- 
culty or danger.' 

Then for an instant Petrovsky's iron 



PENHALA. 253 

self-repression gives way, and his heart 
leaps to his hps. 

' Open danger? Ah, yes ! But to stab 
in the dark ! To rend the hand that has 
caressed you ! To pit your strength and 
cunning against a fragile girl, a gentle old 
man ! God ! God ! God !' 

Very terrible the outburst is, and all 
the more terrible because of its quietness ; 
for, even in the bitterness of that awful 
moment, he is true to his past training, 
and does not betray his emotion by any 
sign visible to the ordinary observer. 

' And the ofood of The Cause ?' beo;ins 
the low, intense voice again ... ' And 
your oath . . . Paul, the son of Stan- 
islaus Kurtz, are you indeed the son of 
your father ?' 

Paul glances round the enclosure, at the 



254 PENHALA. 

garnisli ornamentation of the playhouses 
in the square outside the railings, at the 
tired people on the seats inside, and up at 
the smoke-dimmed sun above the house- 
tops. Just such a look round as one of 
the damned might give, as he stood waiting 
for admission at the portal of the city of 
Dis. Then he lifts his hat again and says, 
cold, and still, and lifeless, 

' My father has said it.' 

And Leipold answers as before: 'Good!' 
Perhaps, now that the battle is over, some 
touch of compassion for the misery of the 
man at his side reaches his consciousness, 
for instead of plunging at once into the busi- 
ness details which Paul, with every nerve 
on the stretch, is expecting, he touches on 
the other side of the argument — the glory 
of aiding the great purpose, no matter what 
the means used. 



PENHALA. 255 

' And it is a patron that is satisfied with 
no half-hearted service, my son — this Cause 
we serve. It is not enough that you sacri- 
fice your ambition, your health, your love,' 
here he makes an almost imperceptible 
pause, ' your life in its service ; you must 
be prepared to sacrifice your conscience, 
your honour, your peace of mind — all 
must go at its demand — body and soul you 
offer to it, and body and soul it claims — 
sometimes. And the more it accepts the 
greater the honour to the giver.' 

' I am a machine in your hands, my 
father — put me to what use you will.' 

' The misfortune is that we cannot choose 
the form of our service. Xow you, who 
would die gladly ten times over for The 
Cause, you are the one who must live for 
it — that is one of the main points I would 
urge upon you. If you perform this busi- 



*ji56 PEXHALA. 

ness so clumsily that suspicion falls upon 
you, it vdW be so much wasted effort on 
your part. Success, perfect and complete, 
will be the only excuse for the measures 
we are taking. Therefore it is necessary 
that you should come into possession of 
this money, without creating a suspicion 
against you in anybody's mind. Therefore 
we must use every precaution in removing 
the obstacles from our path — therefore we 
must go patiently — six months at least 
must lapse between the two — catastrophes. 
There are cliifs — there — where they have 
ffone to? Danorerous neio-hbourhoods 
those, with cliffs. And high ones too, I 
am told. Xo chance of an escape with a 
broken limb if one should happen to slip 
over an edge. Still there is a certain 
ghastliness about a fall from a cliff. I have 
here — I brousfht them with me — some 



PENHALA. 257 

rather rare bon-bons. Will you take 
charge of them for me ? Be careful where 
you leave them. Anyone taking one 
by mistake might come to harm. An 
hour's stupor — painless as an infant's 
sleep — and a sudden failure in the action 
of the heart. You will be careful with 
them? They are so small, so innocent in 
appearance, and so deadly. Once admin- 
istered, there is no antidote to their action. 
And how simple to drop one into a glass 
of wine, or a cup of coiFee, as you hand it 
to — the chosen person. I was imagining a 
bijou drama last night as I crossed from 
Calais — A country walk ; a glass of milk 
at a wayside cottage ; the man fetches it 
himself and carries it to the girl — his 
cousin — and on his way he contrives for 
one brief instant to place himself so that 
the action of his other hand, the hand 

VOL. II. s 



258 PENHALA. 

without the glass, is hidden from the people 
in the cottage and the girl waiting in the 
road ; the continuation of the walk along 
the cliffs ; the unconquerable drowsiness 
of the girl ; the rest on the grass ; the 
senseless form at the man's feet, — quite 
senseless, mark you, unconscious of all 
sensation whatever, — the quick removal of 
that senseless form to the edge, and — over. 
The return of the man alone ; the enquiry 
at the cottage, " Has the lady gone by 
this way ? I left her on the cliff while I 
extended my walk, but I understood she 
was to wait for me. However, I suppose 
she has gone on home." The discovery of 
the body. So evidently an accident that 
internal examination is never thought of, 
never hinted at. Et voilaf 

Paul has taken the minute box, and 
placed it in an inner j)ocket. When 



PENHALA. 259 

Leipold ceases he is breathing hard again, 
with his lips folded close one on the other, 
but he makes no further j^rotest. He has 
said his say — he is ' a machine in their 
hands.' Individual feelings and scruples 
have no place in the economy of the con- 
federacy ; if they exist they must be ob- 
literated, even if they refuse to vanish un- 
til the hot iron of an anguish unspeakable 
has burnt them out, and left its own sear 
on the heart instead. 

They stop now and face one another — 
the short, broad-built man in the shabby 
hat and the iron-grey beard, and the well- 
dressed man with the face of stone. 

' There is nothing more you wish to ask ? 
queries the one. 

' Nothing my father,' answers the other, 
automatically. 

Leipold fixes his eye for an instant on 

s2 



260 PENHALA. 

the rigid face opposite him, but it does not 
falter nor quiver under the inspection, and 
the glance meets his unflinchingly, albeit 
without animation. The examination 
satisfies him evidently, for he mutters a 
short decisive, ' It is well !' and making a 
sudden flash through the air with both 
hands — a sign which the other returns by 
instinct — he turns sharp round and walks 
away in the direction of Soho ; leaving 
Paul alone, amid the pale-faced children 
and the squalid loungers in the city 
garden. 

It was nearly eleven when Paul's hired 
carriage turned in at the gates of the east 
lodge, and rolled quietly up the curving 
drive, across the pretty stone bridge — 
under which the river babbled its peaceful 
summer song — through the long stretch of 



PENHALA. 261 

pine plantations, and into view of the 
house. 

There was a full moon overhead, and as 
his tired glance first fell on the long low 
irregular white buildings, reposing there 
so peacefully in the soft pale light, a sud- 
den impulse fell on him to turn back, and 
leave all there peaceful as he found it, 
to take the country walk of Leipold's 
description by himself, there and then, and 
let his misery end with himself. 

' Are you indeed the son of your father? 
And the good of The Cause ? Has that no 
weight with you ?' 

The words were weaving themselves in 
among the rustle of the pine needles be- 
hind him, setting themselves to the slow 
whirr of the wheels under him. There was 
no turning back for him now, none ! 

He pulled his hat a little lower over his 



262 PENHALA. 

eyes as he came into the light of the 
porch, almost as if he shrank from the 
glance of the man who stood at the door — 
one of the London servants who had come 
down with the family that day. 

' The ladies had gone to their rooms,' he 
informed him ; ' being a little tired with 
the long journey. The gentlemen' — Pen- 
hala had brought quite a party down with 
him — ' were still in the smoke-room. 
Would Mr. Petrovsky like to go to his 
room at once, or should he show him the 
wa}^ to the smoke-room ?' 

Paul smiled a little as he answered him 
that he did not need his guidance, he knew 
his way about the house well enough. 

But he did not go directly to the smoke- 
room. He stood there at the entrance to 
the porch, just where the moonlight from 
without and the lamplight from within 



PBNHALA. 2QS 

met, and fought each other for supremacy. 
He could still hear the wheels of his de- 
parting carriage stealing from the distance 
across the silence of the summer night. 
He wished the sound would cease; and 
yet he could not help straining his ears 
for the last repetition of the terrible ques- 
tion, ' Are you indeed the son of your 
father?' 

He strode away presently, out into the 
night. He was not in the mood for 
smoke-room chatter. He would go round 
to the south front and listen to the sono; 
of the tide, and smoke a cigarette on the 
terrace, and steady his nerves a little 
after the rattle of the ten hours' journey, 
before turning in. 

All the sitting-rooms, bar the smoke 
and billiard-rooms, faced on to this south- 
ern terrace, and as he mounted the steps 



264 PENHALA. 

from the smootli grass slope lie saw that 
the lights in the drawing-room were not 
yet extinguished. Perhaps some of the 
ladies were still up. He shrank back a 
little at the thought. He was not fit, 
either mentally or outwardly, to present 
himself before his uncle's lady-guests. 

As he stood there hesitating, a woman 
with a white cap on her head passed one 
of the open windows, and began to put 
out the candles in the branch against the 
wall. The next instant he heard Parsons' 
voice inside the room, speaking in the 
easy tone of one addressing an equal. 
The servants evidently had the room to 
themselves. 

Re-assured, Paul leant his arms on the 
stone balustrade, and let his thoughts go 
wandering. 

This was the very place where he had 



PENHALA. 265 

waited for his father once, during his 
iirst visit to England. He had been out 
yachting with John, and they had come 
home in the early morning, and his father 
had met them at the top of the cliff stej^s 
yonder, and taken John off into the 
plantations for a talk. He remembered 
that John had gone off to London with 
his father the very next day, and it came 
to him now, like a sudden flash of light, 
that it was during that London visit of 
John's that the sham marriage between 
him and little Hagar Polwhele had been 
got up. Was that also his father's doing 
then? Was that mock marriage a part 
of his design for separating father and 
son, in order that the way might be left 
clear for Paul to inherit? There could 
be no doubt of it — none whatever. Well, 
it had been a clever scheme, carefully 



266 PENHALA. 

planned, and well carried out. But what 
had it ended in? 

Failure, utter and complete ! And this 
one — would it succeed any better ? 

Parsons, inside the room, was talking- 
about old times with Mrs. Quickly — the 
housekeeper who had had charge of the 
place during the seventeen years' absence 
of its master. Naturally they had a 
great deal to say to each other, those 
two fellow-servants, after such a long 
separation. Parsons had originally sought 
the housekeeper out to ask for a more 
comfortable arm-chair for his master's 
dressing-room, and now that they were 
once there, alone, with no chance of an 
interruption, they were finding plenty to 
talk about. For some time their conver- 
sation was exclusively of the long-lost 
John Penhala; of his complete disap- 



PENHALA. 267 

pearance, and his father's repudiation of 
him. 

The man outside on the terrace, wrapped 
in his own thoughts, heard thera without 
heeding, until Ellaline's name struck his 
ear and caught his attention — then he 
began to listen. 

'And what do you think of our Miss 
Ellaline now?' asked Parsons, proudly. 

'Why, I think she's grown up a regular 
beauty,' returned Mrs. Quickly, with en- 
thusiasm. ' I don't wonder that the master 
should be so fond and proud of her. Is it 
true, what the servants are saying, Mr. 
Parsons, about a match between her and 
Lady Glenhaggart's son ?' 

'Well,' said Parsons, with a touch of 
pleasant waggery, ' the master hasn't said 
to me in so many words, " Parsons, my 
man, we are thinking of making a match 



568 PENHALA. 

between young Pinto and my daughter ; 
I hope it has your approval." But, all 
the same, I think there's no sort of doubt 
on the matter, Mrs. Quickly.' 

'Well, but isn't it a little bit queer?' 
asked the housekeeper, with a touch of 
mystery in her tone. 

' Queer ? What do you mean by queer?' 
came the puzzled rejoinder. 

'Why, this Lady Glenhaggart, from the 
talk of her maid, and from her own style 
and manner too, seems to be one of your 
regular high and mighty ones.' 

' Father a city man,' observed Parsons, 
drily; 'first husband ditto. Lord Glen- 
haggart married her for her money, and 
now she's trying all her time to live up to 
the title. That sort is always the same. 
What's that got to do with Miss Ellaline?' 

' Oh, well, that may make a difference, 



PENHALA. 26^ 

to be sure, if she's no great shakes herself 
on the score of birth. I was wondering, 
you know, if she was " a stickler for 
blood " — as that fool of a girl put it at tea- 
time — how it was she allowed her son to 
engage himself to a girl that nobody in the 
wide world knows anything about. Be- 
cause, you know, Parsons, in spite of her 
pretty face and sweet ways — yes, and in 
spite, too, of all the money that I suppose 
the master will leave her — she's but a 
foundling, after all, and there's some people 
wouldn't have a nameless foundling in 
their family, not if she was hung with 
Kho-i-noors from the crown of her head to 
her toe-tips. Why, who knows what her 
father may be ? — a pickpocket, for aught 

we know to the ' 

' Hold hard !' put in Parsons, suddenly. 
'What's the good of saying that sort of 



270 PENHALA. 

thing? It's a fact, Mrs. Quickly, tliat I've 
had my own thoughts about that part of 
the business, since I saw which way the 
cat was going to jump with young Pinto. 
I can't settle it in my own mind whether 
the master has told her ladyship the truth 
about Miss Ellaline or not. I believe he 
forgets half his time, himself, that she 
isn't really his very own daughter. He 
couldn't love her more if she was, that's 
certain. Has the mother never made a 
sign all these years ? Sometimes, I've 
thought that was what kept the master 
away so long — the fear that the mother 
might turn up and want to claim the 
child.' 

' Xo ; the poor soul has never been 
heard of again. She promised Mr. Pen- 
hala she never would interfere, and she 
never has. Like as not she's dead.' 



PENH ALA. 271 

' Like as not. Let me see, her name 
was Smith, wasn't it ?' 

' She called herself Smith down here, 
poor soul ; but who's to know who or what 
she really was ? Xot even Mrs. Polwhele 
ever got a word from her about herself or 
her family, although she was nearly three 
months in her house.' 

' Ah, well. Smith's a common name 
enough, and our Mrs. Smith is a lady of 
the most unassailable respectability. Xice 
woman, isn't she ?' 

' Very ; a lady all over.' 

' Rather ! I say, Mrs. Quickly, I'd keep 
my tongue between my teeth about this 
affair if I was you.' 

' About Miss Ellaline, do you mean ? 
Good gracious, yes ! What do you take 
me for, to go meddling in the business of 
my betters ? It's no affair of mine ; but I 



272 PENHALA. 

don't mind telling you, Mr. Parsons, that I 
wouldn't like to be the one to impart the 
news to Lady Glenhaggart. There'll be 
ructions, you see if there isn't. And I 
shouldn't mind betting you a hat to a bon- 
net, that her ladyship sticks her upstart 
nose in the air, and puts a stop to the 
match in spite of everybody.' 

'Not she,' said Parsons, as his voice les- 
sened in the distance ; ' she knows on 
which side her bread is buttered too well.' 

Then there was silence, except for the 
frou-frou of Mrs. Quickly's silken gown 
as she moved about the room, and the dis- 
tant murmur of the summer tide on the 
rocks. And Paul Petrovsky moved away 
from the neighbourhood of the open win- 
dows, and went down the steps and seated 
himself on the bottom one, and dropped 
his head in his hands, and tried to think 



PENH ALA. 273 

this thing out. But he could not keep his 
thoughts travelling steadily in one di- 
rection for long, because of the one idea 
that kept thundering at the gates of his 
understanding. 

This knowledge that had come to him so 
opportunely, could he not use it in such 
a way that that other unspeakable expedi- 
ent should no longer be necessary? If 
this information could be brought to Lady 
Glenhaggart's knowledge, in such a repul- 
sive form as to lead her to insist upon 
Pinto throwing Elialine over, and if he, 
Paul, stepped forward in the cliaracter of 
the lover, true through good report and 
evil, might not the child — for she was such 
a child — turn to him in the rebound? 
And if she married him she was saved, 
because then she would no longer stand 
between him and his money. 

VOL. ir. T 



274 PENHALA. 

And it was not altogether a selfish joy 
that set his heart leaping at the thought. 
To save her he would have given his own 
life over and over again ; only The Cause 
claimed his first fealty, and The Cause com- 
manded that he should live to inherit this 
wealth. And now it seemed to him that 
there was a possibility of attaining both 
objects — of his inheriting and Ellaline's 
escape. Yes, this fact of Ellaline's doubt- 
ful birth must be brought home to Lady 
Glenhaggart's knowledge in some abrupt, 
revolting fashion, which should set all her 
aristocratic tendencies up in arms, and 
drive her on the spot into an open repudi- 
ation of the Penhala alliance. But how 
to force her ladyship into this attitude of 
scornful reflection ? How? 

With a mind so fully occupied in reduc- 
ing this particular portion of the subject 



PENH ALA. 275 

into manageable order, it was not wonder- 
ful that he left the rest of the chaos of as- 
tonishment to right itself. He gave no 
thought to the surprise the discovery 
should have caused him, he wasted no re- 
sentment on his uncle for the injustice he 
was contemplating, in passing over his own 
flesh and blood to enrich a stranger, of 
whom he knew^ less than nothing ; he 
pinned his reasoning powers down to the 
one point — Would this discovery enable 
him to break off the marriage with Pinto, 
and save Ellaline? 

He sat there so long, trying to feel his 
way out of the maze, that when he did 
move to go into the house, he found he was 
locked out ; and he spent the night on the 
cliffs, scheming and planning, and striving 
with fate for the life of the girl he loved. 

And once, towards morning, when the 

T 2 



276 PENH ALA. 

dawn was grey in tlie east, and the yellow 
moon was dipping low towards tlie western 
sea, as lie paced along the river path, in 
the gloom of the overhanging pines, he 
thought he saw, on the margin of the 
stream some distance ahead of him, just 
where a large block of rock shut in the 
view, a man. He could only see his head 
and shoulders, for the breast-high rock 
was between them, but that much he 
thought he saw distinctly. A man's head 
and shoulders, bent forward and supported 
on his arms on the top of the rock, in an 
attitude expressive of the deepest de- 
jection. 

Surprised to find another wanderer 
abroad at that unusual hour, he moved 
quietly on round the next bend in the 
path, meaning to get a nearer view of this 
early stroller. But when he next came 



PENHALA. 277 

into view of the flat-top23ed rock there was 
nobody there, and he wondered a little 
uneasily whether there had been anyone 
there at all, or whether he had not been 
deluded by his own feverish imagination. 
The thought disquieted him, for, above all 
things, he needed steadiness of nerve, to 
take him safely through the ordeal to 
which he was pledged. 



278 



CHAPTER IV. 

MUSIC HATH CHARMS THE SAVAGE BREAST 
TO SOOTHE. 

Mrs. Smith and Ellaline were up and out 
at seven o'clock on the morning after their 
arrival at Carn Ruth. Ellaline had been 
unable to sleep, because of the mad joy- 
ousness of the singing birds in the or- 
chard in the dip below her windows, and 
creeping into Mrs. Smith's room, and find- 
ing her awake also, she had coaxed her 
into an early walk, before anybody else 
was about to monopolise her attention. 



PENHALA. 279 

' We shall never get a word with each 
other in the house while these jDeople are 
buzzing about us,' said the girl, as they 
left the sleepy street of the little fishing- 
town behind them, and tackled the ascent 
to Tregarron Head — Mrs. Smith's choice 
of a walk this. ' I was simply dying to 
have a chat with you last night, but I 
couldn't get near you after dinner ; and 
you looked so tired at bed-time that I 
hadn't the heart to come to your room, 
and keep you out of your bed for hours 
listening to my silly chatter.' 

' For hours ?' said Mary, with a smile 
of enquiry. ' Would nothing less have 
satisfied you ?' 

' Well, I was afraid to trust myself,' 
answered the pretty child, laughing and 
blushing, and looking beautifully happy, 
and just a little conscious. ' I had such 



280 PENH ALA. 

a wonderful piece of news to tell you, and 
T knew when I once began I should never 
know when to leave oiF.' 

Mary turned, with a stirred look in her 
eyes. She had known it was coming for 
weeks past, but all the same, now it had 
come, she felt as if her heart was going 
to be plucked out by the roots. 

Ellaline slipped her hand under her arm. 
and gave it a loving squeeze. 

• Oh, gran'ma, what big eyes you've 
got !' she cried, with a little ripple of emo- 
tional laughter. ' Dearest, if you look at 
me like that I shall never be able to tell 
you my secret. In fact, I don't think I 
can tell you. I really believe I'm shy. 
Did you ever know before that I was shy? 
I didn't. But I am now, all of a sudden.' 
A pause and a sigh. Then — ' I think, 
after all, Mamma Mary, you'll have to 



PENHALA. 281 

guess what it was I wanted to tell you.' 
• Is it that I am going to lose my 
spoilt girl, I wonder?' said Mary, trying 
very hard not to dim the girl's happi- 
ness by any reminder of her own heart- 
wrench. 

,' Xo, that indeed it is not !' declared 
Ellaline, with sudden vehemence. ' That 
was the very first thing I said to Fitz — 
*' You won't put your back up against Mrs. 
Smith" — and he said — Oh, my goodness, 
there ! I've let it out after all, you see ; 
and you won't be sorry, will you, my 
darling?' 

Mary stopped on the hill-side, and took 
the pretty, pleading, eager face between 
her two hands, and kissed it, twice three 
times, with her heart on her lips. It gave 
her time, and she needed it. What would 
her life be in the future ? She pushed the 



282 PEXHALA. 

thought from her quickly, before it could 
cloud her face. Time enough for that by 
and by. 

'Sorry?' she echoed, with scarcely a 
falter in her voice. ' Sorry ? Because a 
good, honourable man is going to make 
a happy woman of you ? Sorry, my dar- 
ling ? Why, Ella, there is no one in all 
the world who will rejoice more than I, to 
know of your great happiness.' 

Then Ella cried, being in that state of 
exaltation which can find no outlet but in 
tears. 

'Isn't it stupid?' she cried, smiling 
through her tears at her own folly. ' I 
was never so silly before. But this love- 
making and nonsense seems to have altered 
me altogether. And yet I am happy, you 
know. Mamma Mary ; happier than I ever 



PEXHALA. 283 

thought it was possible to be. Fitz is such 
a dear boy — ah ! but you don't know half 
how nice he really is, because he never 
will behave as if he was in earnest about 
anything — not before people, I mean — but 
he is really, really good and true at heart; 
and I think he is just as strict about 
— thino;s — honour and truth — '' ^oino^ 

O CO 

straight," he calls it — as some who make a 
great talk and fuss about their principles. 
He is going to talk things over with 
my father this morning. Do you think 
he will feel it very much, dear? Oh, it 
makes me feel so selfish when I think 
of him and you I And yet Fitz would be 

broken-hearted if ' 

' My darling,' said Mary, 'your father 
would not have invited Mr. Pinto and 
his mother to his house if he had not 



284 PENHALA. 

been reconciled to what was going to 
happen.' 

'Do you think he knew, then?' cried 
Ellaline, in startled astonishment. ' Oh, it 
would be such a comfort to me to think he 
knew all along. And yet — how could he ? 
I did not know. I don't think he could, 
dear. But I hope he did. It would not 
come as a shock to him then.' 

Mary listened, and gave her sympathy 
freely ; but it was only a divided attention 
after all that she was bestowing on the 
pretty girlish confidences ; her deeper 
thoughts were occupied with other matters. 

This return to Carn Ruth had greatly 
disquieted her, as for many reasons it was 
inevitable it should. Would any of the 
townspeople recognise her ? 

Had Mr. Penhala weighed the chances 



PENHALA. 285 

of Ellaline's doubtful birth coming to the 
knowledge of his guests, now that they 
were among people to whom it was no 
secret ? 

If it did come to light, w^hat effect was 
it likely to have upon the superb Lady 
Glenhaggart ? 

Was there any possibihty, now that she 
was once more on the spot, of pursuing 
that old idea of hers with regard to the 
clearing of eJohn's name ? 

Anent this last question she was con- 
scious of a touch of self-reproach. All 
these long years she had let the dead past 
bury its dead ; Ijut now that she was back 
here, among the scenes of that almost for- 
gotten tragedy of John Penhala's youth, 
her memory of him was revivified, and she 
felt as if she had been guilty of a disloyalty 



286 PENHALA. 

to the dead in lettins; the matter rest so 
long. There, above them, stood the cottage 
where she had made her only attempt to 
right the wrong. As they mounted the 
slope, she found herself recalling the in- 
terview with Morris Edyvean's mother. 
The little house was closely shut. Was 
the old woman dead? She would be very 
old now ; too old, perhaps, to remember 
Mary. Still she would rather not risk 
recognition. 

Xo, it was only a divided attention she 
was giving to Ellaline's pretty girlish 
secrets. But it was quite enough for 
the child, in her present condition of 
mind, to be allowed to talk, and the stream 
of words flowed on without interruption, 
until they were past the cottage and the 
fir-trees, and out on the bold bluff itself, 



PENHALA. 287 

T\'itli the soft summer breakers booming 
dully on the rocks -B.Ye hundred feet below 
them. 

And then something in Mary's face, as 
she stood there, gazing out over the sea, 
put a sudden thought into Ellaline's head, 
full just now of love and lovers as it 
was. 

' Little mother, I want to ask you some- 
thino^.' This title was the most endearing 
in all Ellaline's vocabulary, but hardly 
warranted by circumstances ; she had only 
beaten Mary in the matter of inches within 
the last six months. ' You are so pretty, 
and you look so young ; and when your 
husband died you must have been, oh, 
quite a girl ! I can't think how it is that 
in all these years you have never had a 
lover.' 



288 PENH ALA. 

Mary flushed and paled. It was as if 
the bandage that had covered her wound 
all these years had been suddenly stripped 
off, and shown her the hurt she had 
thought healed, still bleeding. She had 
hardly realised how faithful her heart still 
was to the love of her girlhood, until this 
shrinking distaste at Ellaline's suggestion 
came and enlightened her. And even 
while she flinched, she smiled, and put 
the foolishness away from her again. She 
to retain a glimmer of romance indeed ! 

' I buried all that sort of thing with my 
husband, darling,' she said, quietly. ' I 
have forgotten the meaning of the word 
love, as you translate it, for as many years 
as you have lived. Does that seem sor- 
rowful to you ? I don't feel it so. I loved 
my husband with all the love I had in me; 
I think the power to love burnt itself out 



PEXHALA. 289 

in the one effort — I don't know. I only 
know I have sat in the twilight — a very- 
pleasant twilight, Ellaline — ever since. 
You little traitor,' she went on, smilingly^ 
• to entice an old woman like me into talk- 
ing about her love secrets ! Come, childie, 
we must not stop to talk about anything 
any longer. Look at that cloud coming 
up behind us. AYe're in for a wetting, I'm 
afraid.' 

They had been gazing seaward, but now, 
as they faced inland again, they saw the 
clouds piling themselves up one on the 
other in a fashion that meant mischief. 
And they were nearly a mile from the 
town, and no shelter between them and it 
but the solitary cottage in the shadow of 
the pines ! 

For some occult reason Mary felt she 
did not wish Ellaline to o^o to that cotta;2fe 

VOL. II. U 



290 PENH ALA. 

— perhaps because it had been the home 
of John Penhala's betrayer — and she set 
out at a run, hoping to get well past the 
lonely little place before the rain began. 
But the clouds out-raced them. The big 
drops were pattering down on the short, 
close turf before they reached the shelter 
of the trees, and as they came out on the 
land side of the plantation, it seemed as if 
the clouds opened and let the water down 
in a sheet. They dashed breathlessly to- 
wards the tiny house, and, scarcely going 
through the form of knocking for admis- 
sion, plucked the door open and plunged 
into the obscurity of the interior. 

For a moment they stood there panting 
and laughing, almost scared by the sudden- 
ness of the downpour. The darkness of 
the place and the rattle of the rain-drops 



PENHALA. 291 

>on the slated roof, and the squeal of the 
-wind, as the squall tore up the hill from 
the valley, bewildered them, after the 
calm of a moment ago ; and even while 
they laughed they drew instinctively 
nearer to one another, and glanced in- 
quisitively into the gloom at the other end 
of their shelter. 

'Shut the door!' cried a shrill voice 
from out of the shadow. ' Do you want 
the roof blown from over our heads ? 
Shut the door, I say !' 

But, before they could turn to obey the 
command, a little figure — all tangled hair 
and rags it looked in that first swift glance 
— rushed past them and banged the door 
violently, leaving them in an obscurity 
which was nothing more than darkness 
made visible. 

u 2 



292 PENHALA. 

' Fin very sorry/ began Mary, feeling it 
necessary to say something ; ' but we 
thought the cottage was unoccupied. You 
will allow us to stand up till the shower 
is past ?' 

' Stand up as long as you like,' was the 
ungracious rejoinder, ' only don't blow 
sick people clean out of their beds, with 
your open doors in the teeth of a thunder 
squall.' 

' I'm very sorry. We did'not know,' 
said Mary again, as the irascible unknown 
crossed to the one small window, and 
drew back the heavy curtain hanging in 
front of it. 

They could see around them a little 
now, and, without betraying a curiosity 
which might irritate their unamiable 
hostess, they made out that the room they 



PENHALA. 293 

were in bore signs everywhere of a want 
that had long ago reached the hopeless 
stage — a stage at which its victims cease 
to make the best of things, and sit down 
to wallow in their misery. Just a short 
bench and a home-made table, and a 
couple of shelves with a few mutilated 
articles of crockery, and a rusty iron pot 
on the open hearth, and in the far corner 
a ragged curtain hung on a slackened 
string, from behind which there peeped the 
foot of a squalid bed — that was ail the 
place held. The floor, paved with rough, 
unhewn slabs of slate, was bare of all 
covering, and the mortar had here and 
there broken in big patches from the 
walls, and left the naked outer stone- 
work exposed to view. And, wherever 
this had happened, the stones seemed to 



594 PENH ALA. 

^aze upon the desolation within with a 
kind of reluctant shame, as if anxious to 
have it understood that they were not the 
active agents in this intrusion upon the 
secrets of the house. 

Ella drew still closer to Mary, with a 
glance of commiserating horror. 

'Is the sick person very ill?' asked 
Mary, gently, of the un^vashed, uncombed 
little woman at the window, who stood 
with her shoulder turned forbiddingly on 
her unwelcome visitors. ' You seem very 
isolated up here ; can we do anything to 
help ? Have you had sickness in the 
house long ?' 

' My husband was hurt in the Cluth- 
hoe trouble, and he's been abed ever 
since.' 

From the way this information was con- 



PENHALA. 295 

veyed, it was evident that everybody was 
supposed to know the date of the Cluth- 
hoe trouble, and Mary's next question was 
put rather deprecatingly. 

' And was that long ago ?' 

' Well, you can't know much about 
Cornwall not to know that. It's turned 
five year since they brought him home and 
laid him on the bed there ; and there ain't 
much chance that he'll ever get off it 
again, till he's carried off — and that day 
ain't so fur off, neither,' she added, with 
a drop of the voice, and a glance towards 
the' curtain in the corner, to warn her 
listeners that what they said might be 
overheard. 

' That is very terrible,' said Mary. ' A 
long sickness like that is always terrible — 
under any circumstances — and I'm afraid 



296 PENH ALA. 

things have not been too comfortable with 
you.' 

'Comfortable?' echoed the shrunken- 
looking little creature, with the dreariest 
laugh in the world. ' There ain't been 
much comfort for Morris nor me this many 
a long year. But I will say he never 
promised me any such thing. ''You'll 
have to rough it if you come with me, my 
girl," he ses, before ever we left London 
at all ; and I have had to rough it; and I 
ain't grumbling, not for a minute; only 
when you spoke about comfort, you see, it 
— it made me laugh, that's all.' 

* I wish you would let me help you in 
some way,' said Mary, her heart full of 
pity as she listened. ' May I send up a 
basket of nice little things to tempt a 
sick man's appetite? And a little com- 



PENHALA. 297 

pany is cheery sometimes — if your hus- 
band would let me come and chat with 
him ' 

But the woman put up her hand quickly 
for silence. 

' He can't abear it,' she murmured, 
shaking her head vehemently. ' He wont 
see a soul ; and I doubt if he'd touch the 
food either — he's a queer temper, and as 
'aughty in his w\ays as if he was a king in 
his palace. He's faint with hunger half 
his time, for he won't go into the house, 
and the parish pay ain't much, but he 
never grumbles, and he's never once asked 
for food since he's been on his back. It's 
only by the look in his eye when I take 
the poor bit to him that I know what he 
feels. He's got a proud spirit — I doubt if 
he'd eat the food of charity at all, if it 



298 PENH ALA. 

wasn't for the gnawing hunger inside 
him.' 

Ellaline Avas crying a little from sheer 
sympathy. This was her first personal 
acquaintance with grinding poverty, and 
her tender heart was brimming over. 

' I will send the basket in any case/ 
Mary said. ' Perhaps you will coax him 
into eating some of the good things, after 
all.' 

And then there came a little sound from 
behind the curtain, and the woman hur- 
ried away in response to it, and left her 
two visitors by themselves near the 
window. 

Ellaline was crying still, and indeed the 
quiet hopelessness of the woman's manner 
was enough to make anyone cry. Mary 
drew her towards the window to watch the 



PENH ALA. 299^^ 

rain, and presently she began to sing, very 
softly, a setting of ' The Rainy Day.' 

And Mary's voice, although she no 
longer sang for effect, after the fashion of 
an operatic prima donna ^ was exquisitely 
sweet and penetrant in quality. She was 
mindful of the nerves of the sick man, and 
it was scarcely more than a rivulet of 
sound that came from between her lips ; 
but the tiny stream of melody wound its 
way in and out and about the desolate 
little homestead, till the whole place pul- 
sated with its tenderness, and there was 
an utter stillness in the room, as if the 
occupants feared to miss one ripple of the 
heart music. And the singer appreciated 
the silence, and sang on to the end of her 
song. 

' The rain is passing,' she said, present- 



500 PENHALA. 

ly; 'we shall be home in tmie for break- 
fast after all. We won't come so far afield 
again without umbrellas and waterproofs. 
Quieter now, my darling? That's right. 
Oh, what is it?' 

Their uncouth little hostess had come 
suddenly from behind the curtain, with 
her pinched, unwashed face working pite- 
ously in an attempt to keep back a burst 
of weeping. 

'Oh, will you come to him, ma'am?' 
she cried. ' He wants you to sing again. 
He's crying like a baby ; and I'll bet 
man nor woman never saw tears on 
Morris Edyvean's cheeks before. Oh, 
come to him, dear lady ! You won't hang 
back from a dying man's prayer?' 

As Mary lifted her hand from Ellaline's 
shoulder, and moved towards the sha- 



PENH ALA. 301 

dowy corner, there was a look on her 
face ^Yhich the o;irl remembered as Ions; 
as she lived. It was as if a flash of 
light from within had suddenly shone up 
and illuminated her features. 

' Morris Edyvean ?' she muttered. ' Is 
your husband's name Edyvean ?' 

Ellaline waited by the window. She 
heard Mrs. Smith sing again, and she 
heard the murmur of voices in conver- 
sation, and she waited on, feeling dimly 
that there was something weird and awe- 
some going on around her. 

Mary came out to her after what, in 
her surprised wonderment, seemed a very 
long time, and asked her if she would 
mind going home alone. And if she had 
felt there was somethinir uncannv in the 



302 PENHALA. 

march of events before, she felt it a 
thousand times more so now. Mary was 
transfio^ured ! Her face was alio^ht and 
quivering with an intense emotion. Ella- 
line was very much mystified. 

' Of course she did not mind going home 
alone, and of course she would send up 
the basket of food at once. But did her 
■dearest Mrs. Smith think it would be 
any real good her staying there, in that 
desolate place ? Could they not send 
somebody up from the town to help the 
poor woman nurse her husband? Wouldn't 
that be a much better plan for all 
parties ?' 

But she gave in when she saw how 
completely Mary's mind was made up; 
and took her way home, across the wet, 
springy turf, and down the steep hill to 



PENH ALA. 303 

the town, in a more hopeless state of 
bewilderment than ever. 

It was very strange and incomprehen- 
sible, all of it — in fact it was something a 
little more, it was mysterious, and Ella- 
line hated mystery. 



END OF THE SECOND VOLUME 



London : Printed hy Duncan Macdonald^ Blenheim House, W.